Homeless Outreach

Each night in Illinois, more than 14,000 people are experiencing homelessness. Many of them are also battling mental illness with no professional or community assistance.

The Thresholds Mobile Assessment Unit (TMAU) was established in 1989 to provide assertive outreach, psychiatric care, and resource referral to persons experiencing homelessness with serious mental illness. TMAU employs the skills of licensed clinical social workers on the streets, in the shelters, and any other location where people who are homeless may be found. We are Chicago’s only city-wide mental health outreach program, and our primary goal is simple: to get people living with mental illness off the street and help them regain control of their lives. 

We believe it’s not enough to simply be available to the people who need our services – we need to bring our services to them. Every day, TMAU workers can be found traveling in a van in search of people who may need our services, or dashing through the park system on bikes in response to radio-dispatched crisis calls. After initial contact, the TMAU team can hospitalize people in need, help provide temporary shelter, or connect them to long-term support programs. Each year TMAU works with 800–1,400 people on the streets throughout the greater Chicago metropolitan area.

Thresholds CTA Project

The Thresholds CTA Project team engages populations experiencing homelessness in need of services on public transportation in Chicago. They provide comprehensive assessments, clinical engagement, advocacy, community resources development, transportation to appointments, and assistance with completing and submitting public benefits applications.

The CTA Project team works with CTA security to identify persons in need. Staff shifts vary between weekends and week days, peak and non-peak times, for maximum coverage. All staff are equipped with a cell phone in order for CTA and Chicago Department of Human Services (CDHS) personnel to reach them at any time, as well as a wireless laptop containing resource information, web-based e-mail, and software designed to track a member’s progress.


Homeless Outreach services and programs at Thresholds are realized through partnership and support from the City of Chicago and the Department of Family and Support Services, through the Illinois Department of Human Services.

Watch a video about the Thresholds CTA Project: