Downtown Streets Team Expands Street Beautification, Homeless Employment Efforts To Union Square

Downtown Streets Team Expands Street Beautification, Homeless Employment Efforts To Union Square
Photo: Union Square Business Improvement District
By Brittany Hopkins - Published on September 15, 2016.

After quickly making a name for itself this summer around Civic Center and Mid-Market, Downtown Streets Team has expanded its street cleaning program to Union Square.

The nonprofit helps homeless and under-employed individuals gain job skills, employment and housing opportunities by volunteering to clear litter on city streets. It started in Palo Alto a decade ago, and has gone on to tackle homelessness in San Rafael, San Jose and most recently, downtown San Francisco.

Under the new expansion, eight of Downtown Streets Team's members are now donning red T-shirts and working with the Union Square Business Improvement District's maintenance and hospitality team, Block By Block, from 7am to 11am and 1pm to 5pm on weekdays.

In addition to collecting trash, Downtown Streets Team members conduct outreach to homeless individuals in the area, offering information on how to get involved in the workforce development program. 

Since launching the Union Square pilot program in August, Downtown Streets Team has collected 9,300 pounds of trash in Union Square and more than 142 syringes, the Union Square BID reports. Two team members have already found jobs, and one has found housing.

Overall, the partnership—which is directing $150,000 per year in funding to Downtown Streets Team—aims to help 24 people transition to temporary or permanent housing in its first year.

"We are delighted to welcome the first DST crew to Union Square," said Karin Flood, executive director of the Union Square BID, in a press release regarding Downtown Streets Team's expansion to Union Square. "This partnership addresses two of our objectives—that of enhancing the cleanliness of the area while giving individuals an opportunity to better their lives through meaningful work." 

Following a press conference this morning on Maiden Lane, all are invited to Golden Gate Tap Room (449 Powell St.) at noon to help welcome Downtown Streets Team to the neighborhood.

Those interested in becoming a team member or volunteering with the organization can also attend one of Downtown Streets Team's weekly meetings, held at 12:30pm on Tuesdays at 65 9th St.