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Cross-system homeless outreach efforts

Multiple agencies, including the police department and housing partners, collaborate to identify people who are experiencing homelessness and connect them to housing supports and other services. 

Local Examples

Cambridge, MA

  • In 2016, a collaboration between the Cambridge Police Department (CPD), Department of Human Service Programs, local service providers, and shelters led to the founding of the Multi-Disciplinary Outreach team. This team meets weekly to review individual cases of people who repeatedly cycle between the behavioral health and justice systems and coordinate outreach and service engagement plans.
  • The CPD’s Homeless Outreach Unit comprises two officers whose work has expanded beyond the initial scope of transporting people to hospitals or shelters to a comprehensive, problem-solving case management approach.
  • Through its Family and Social Justice Section, officers are given specialty assignments working with youth, people with behavioral health needs, residents experiencing homelessness, or other populations with complex needs. Through in-service and roll-call training on available services and resources, CPD ensures that beat officers have the tools needed to support the Homeless Outreach officers’ work and build an agency-wide culture that centers around connection with services and resources.



1 - Reduce bookings into jail
3 - Increase connection to treatment
4 - Reduce recidivism

Last updated: March 9, 2023