Street Outreach and Engagement Specialist

Shelter House

Job Summary: The Street Outreach and Engagement Specialist (the “Specialist”) is part of a coordinated team operating out of Shelter House Community Shelter and Transition Services (“Shelter House”) who collaborate with local community partners engaged in the Johnson and Washington County Coordinated Entry region. These partners include: social service providers, health and mental health care teams, local law enforcement, and municipal staff (collectively, “The Community Partners”).

Together, the Specialist with their Community Partners will work to identify and engage people living in unsheltered locations, such as in cars, parks, abandoned buildings, encampments, and on the streets or other places not meant for human habitation.

The Specialist will work alongside and with referrals from and to these Community Partners to engage and reach people who might not otherwise seek assistance or come to the attention of the homelessness service system in the Johnson and Washington County Coordinated Entry region.

The Specialist ensures that people’s basic needs are met while supporting them along pathways toward housing stability and supportive services as needed and desired.

The Specialist is responsible for engaging with identified individuals, receiving referrals on locations and persons from Community Partners, and providing information and referrals, completing assessments, intakes, performing case management, and providing concrete services.


Reports to: Housing Services Director

Key Responsibilities:

1. Outreach and Engagement

2. Service and Housing Coordination

3. Coordination with Community Stakeholders

4. Administrative Duties


1. Key Responsibility (30% of time): The Specialist shall provide Outreach and Engagement services. Participants engaged should receive high performing services in accordance with Shelter House policies, mission, vision, and values.

  • Utilize a person-centered approach, motivational interviewing, trauma-informed care, and harm reduction models to provide direct services and service coordination for identified participants, maintaining flexibility, patience, trained engagement techniques, and empathy.
  • Provide targeted street outreach, assuring appropriate geographic coverage, to communities within the Shelter House service area to identify unsheltered homeless persons living on the streets or other places not meant for human habitation (e.g. parking lots, bridges, storage facilities, forest preserves, etc.).
  • Establish rapport and reduce harm by providing critical, life-saving resources such as food, water, clothing, blankets, and other necessities and determine the person’s immediate safety needs. Using a trauma-informed approach, provide crisis intervention, practiced and proven competent engagement techniques, and other skills and strategies as needed for engagement.
  • Perform assessments and prioritize for assistance as sheltered person assessed through the coordinated entry process and make appropriate referrals into Coordinated Entry and perform and complete VISPDATs.
  • Provide age-appropriate interaction and immediate referral to appropriate agencies with any homeless youth encountered.
  • Work as a team with the other staff members as appropriate to alternate responsibilities and negotiate tasks to ensure safety and engagement protocols are met, while offering multiple opportunities to say ‘no’ and making repeated offers of assistance as necessary throughout the engagement process.
  • Ensure that encounters and interactions are respectful and responsive to the beliefs and practices, sexual orientations, disability statuses, age, gender identities, cultural preferences, and linguistic needs of all individuals.
  • Follow safety protocols for vulnerable populations that involve fleeing domestic violence, as well as dating violence, sexual assault, trafficking, or prostitution and make appropriate referrals with the appropriate level of support to each participant and client as needed.
  • Develop and maintain knowledge of resources, services, and opportunities available to participants. Deliver high quality crisis intervention and seek appropriate support to assist in difficult or emergency client situations.

2. Key Responsibility (15% of time): The Specialist will build rapport and maintain positive professional relationships and coordinate with Community Partners.

  •  Establish working relationships with community stakeholders - law enforcement, libraries, first responders, hospitals, health and behavioral healthcare providers, city staff liaisons, faith-based organizations, and other community-based providers.
  • Coordinate with Housing Services’ medical cooperative partners as applicable. Communicate and cooperate with staff from other programs and stakeholders as needed to ensure seamless delivery of service to clients with appropriate releases on file.
  • Maintain a high level of professionalism at all times with a high-level of advocacy for participants within community settings both private and public. Build and maintain positive relationships with community partners to ensure a high level of collaboration to best provide care and services to populations served in this role.

3. Key Responsibility (35% of time): The Specialist will coordinate services and provide referrals, while using a Housing First approach. Street Outreach does not impose preconditions to make referrals to permanent housing, shelter, or other temporary housing, such as sobriety, minimum income requirements, absence of a criminal record, completion of treatment, participation in services, or other unnecessary conditions.

  • Ensure that a trauma-informed workplace, no matter the location, is achieved and maintained demonstrating a balance of kindness, competence, and care toward self, others with whom we work, and those for whom we provide care.
  • Deliver high-quality crisis intervention and seek appropriate support to assist in difficult or emergency participant situations. Make immediate connections to emergency shelter or temporary housing to provide safe options while individuals and families are on a pathway toward stability
  • Make connections to stable housing with tailored services and supports of their choice, such as health and behavioral health care, transportation, access to benefits, and more.
  • Perform warm handoffs to Coordinated Entry or to shelter, housing, and service providers (e.g. outreach staff may offer to physically accompany the individual to appointments to provide support).
  • Be mindful of racial inequities and disparities among people experiencing homelessness and tailor and customize their efforts to ensure that equity is being achieved within their outreach activities and outcomes.
  • Utilize problem-solving techniques to identify strengths and existing support networks, explore possible safe housing options outside the homelessness service system, such as reunification with family, and connect the individual to community supports and services

4. Key Responsibility (20% of time): The Specialist must accurately record and maintain participant data and statistics including but not limited to demographics, outcome measures, goals, face-to-face notes, medical information, collateral contact, and grant-specific requirements, and maintain all participant records to ensure accuracy, confidentiality, and security in a timely manner.

  • Document all street outreach contacts and housing placements in and obtain the appropriate licensure to access Service Point: Homeless Management Information System.
  • Review and complete incident reports as required. Ensure confidentiality in participant information is always maintained. Ensure that intake and exit procedures are thoroughly conducted in a timely manner, including any relevant program record keeping programs, ServicePoint HMIS documentation and other agency required paperwork. Appropriate program forms pertinent to client information and confidentiality are organized, as complete as possible, and secure.
  • Actively engage with programming and department matters, supporting other staff when crises arise.
  • Attend and are actively engage in required agency meetings, such as all-staff and department meetings, and attend and are actively engaged in required trainings. Carry a cell phone at all times when on duty or when on-call. Respond to issues in a timely and professional manner.
  • Complete other duties as assigned.



1. Knowledge, skills, and abilities consistent with a degree in in human services related field, or minimum three years related experience. Demonstrated knowledge and ability to establish & maintain effective working relationships with area services, community partners, and resources.

2. Commitment to operating within a trauma-informed workplace and community that demonstrates a balance of kindness, competence, and care toward self, colleagues, and populations served. Ability to assess and respond responsibly in a wide variety of situations and crises.

3. Minimum of one-year direct care experience with persons with mental illness, homelessness, or disabilities.

4. Proficiency in Windows based computer environment and Microsoft Office Suite.

5. Good written, verbal, and interpersonal communication skills, organizational and time management skills.

6. Ability to work independently, prioritize multiple tasks, and be flexible in job duties & schedule.

7. Possess a valid driver's license and reliable transportation to get to and from work shifts and have the ability to tolerate extreme weather conditions.


Shelter House is an Equal Opportunity Employer and a United Way Agency.

Job Benefits:

Full time positions come with health, dental, vision, retirement, flexible savings, dependent care savings benefits, and term life insurance. Payrate is commensurate with experience.

COVID-19 Precautions:

PPE, social distancing and vaccination encouraged.

Application Instructions:

Please be sure to attach a resume and cover letter to your application.

Job ID: 81170

Posted 8 days ago

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