In an effort to help the homeless around campus Public Safety has partnered with St. Stephen’s Street Outreach program to provide services to the homeless around campus.
The partnership, which began a formal connection this past summer but has been informal for years, attempts to connect those that are homeless with shelter, medical help, rides to the hospital and drug or alcohol treatment if needed.
The program’s involvement at MCTC is spearheaded by Mark Deree, Public Safety Supervisor at MCTC, who said, “We’re not enforcement focused…this is a different approach. This approach revolves around active engagement by St. Stephen’s staff and Public Safety by patrolling and making contact with homeless individuals around campus.”
Once contact is made St. Stephen’s conducts a Vulnerability Index Service Prioritization Decision Assitance Tool (VISPDA) to assess the priority level of the individual. This, according to Breanna Jaijairam, Street Outreach program manager, is done to put those most in need on a list through Hennepin County to schedule housing needs as soon as possible. Jaijairam said, “We’re a housing first agency so we believe that housing comes first and then we can deal with kind of the other things that are going on.”
St. Stephen’s and Public Safety meet 1-2 times a week and according to Deree, “Our ability to connect a face has been very helpful,” and that the program has helped with 6 specific cases since this summer.
The program is staffed by 3 daytime, 3 nighttime, and 2 veteran’s outreach employees by St. Stephen’s which has expanded from just 3 in 2007. The program has been limited at MCTC and is looking to expand according to Jaijairam.
While the program does not focus on MCTC students, there are resources for those on campus who are in need of help. Deree recommends students go to the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities (OSRR), “If people are looking for those resources, go to student services…[If not] come to an officer or come to me and we’ll bring these resources to them,” although the Street Outreach program can help students.
Students in need of assistance can contact Street Outreach at 612-879-7634 or toll-free at 1-888-550-7624. Students can also stop by OSRR which is located at T.2300 or Public Safety which is located at R.3100.