Safe Horizon’s Streetwork Project is New York City’s leading provider of emergency services and supportive care for homeless, runaway and street-involved young people ages 16 to 25. Since the program began in 1984, we have grown to offer a comprehensive continuum of care to thousands of young people, helping them stabilize and work toward long-term safety.
In 1984 this program began as a grassroots outreach program in the Times Square neighborhood, with the goal of reaching street-involved youth and providing options for safety and staying healthy. Our first Streetwork office was on the ground floor of the New York Times building on 43rd street, and our staff went into the streets, arcades, and alleyways to start spreading the word that if and when young people wanted to come in and see us we would be here for them.
Today, Streetwork Project has two drop-in centers, one in Harlem and one in the lower East Side (as seen above, left to right). We operate one overnight shelter where a limited number of young people can stay for up to a month at a time. Most nights of the year, our Outreach team hits the streets, subways, parks, and places where young people are known to congregate and distribute supplies like water, socks, condoms, basic hygiene supplies and continues to let young people know that our drop-in centers are here for them.
In 2019 our Outreach team made over 13,000 contacts. That same year, we worked with over 900 clients providing advocacy and supportive services.
Other programs in New York City that help young people have requirements that clients need to meet to be eligible for help. At Streetwork, you only have to be a young person between 16 and 25. Our low-threshold, harm-reduction-based programming is offered in a welcoming, youth-only environment, providing, we believe, the most effective way to reach and help homeless and heavily street-involved youth. We offer clients direct, easy access to a range of critical services in a non-judgmental manner. We do not tell any young people we work with what they have to do, we believe in them and what they hope to do.
Streetwork’s mission has remained one constant in New York City for over 35 years:
We are committed to reaching out to homeless and disenfranchised youth offering them respite from hunger, cold, loneliness and fear, and the opportunity to reclaim or maintain a sense of dignity and self-worth. Our goal is to extend ourselves to these young people through the services we provide, and through the love we are willing to express. With every meal, medical appointment, referral, condom and group we offer, we communicate to our clients our concern for their lives and our belief in their potential. Our mission is to act as a catalyst for their self –improvement.