Each night in Illinois, more than 80,000 people are experiencing homelessness. Many of them are also battling mental illness with no professional or community assistance.
The Thresholds Homeless Outreach Program (HOP) was established in 1989 to provide assertive outreach, linkage to primary and psychiatric care, and resource referral to persons experiencing homelessness with serious mental illness. The HOP 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 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, HOP workers can be found traveling in a van in search of people who may need our service. After initial contact, the HOP team may hospitalize people in need, help provide temporary shelter, or connect them to long-term support programs. Each year the HOP works with 800–1,400 people on the streets throughout the greater Chicago metropolitan area.
Thresholds CTA Project
The Thresholds CTA team engages populations experiencing homelessness in need of services on Chicago’s “L” transit system. 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 peak and non-peak times for maximum coverage. All staff are equipped with 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.