Watch our video from 2015 that explains how we help the homeless.
Featured Video: The Story of Milagros
Our Approach involves working with the homeless who have monthly income (job, disability, public assistance, etc.). After we determine a caller is eligible for our services we build a personalized budget with them to determine how much rent they can afford based on their income and all their expenses. Then, if they are able to find an appropriately priced rental that fits this budget, we pay the security deposit directly to the landlord to get the them placed. After they are in their new rental, we deliver the essential household goods and furniture they need to get a new start in life. All of this is possible due to the incredible generosity of our donors.
Compassion + Personal Responsibility: We exist to give the homeless a compassionate hand up. However, our approach requires the person we help to accept most of the responsibility for getting off the streets. They must be motivated. They must be willing to go through an in-depth financial review. They must find their own rental. They must have income to pay rent on an ongoing basis. We encourage and guide them but they do the work.
100% volunteer & minimal overhead expenses: We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit charity with an all-volunteer team. We continually strive to keep overhead expenses to an absolute minimum. We have no paid staff or office building. Most of our volunteers work out of their own homes. In addition to security deposits our other client related expenses include our warehouse rental and the operating costs for our box truck. Our only expenses that are not directly related to client services are mandatory insurance and general and administrative costs such as information technology, office supplies, and other operating expenses. That means most of your donated money goes directly toward helping the homeless get off the street.
100% private funding: We accept no government funding. All of our donations are from private individuals and organizations. This gives us the ability to operate efficiently, quickly, and with no regulatory restrictions or reporting requirements. Beyond giving financially, you can also contribute to our mission in other ways such as donating household goods or simply spreading the word about our charity.
One-time service: We provide our service one time only; we don’t have any repeats. As such, we conduct in-depth financial reviews with the people we help to maximize that person’s chances for long term success – the first time.
Fiscal discipline: We will not pay a security deposit to place someone unless we are convinced they have the ability to pay future month’s rent. To do otherwise would be an irresponsible use of the money our donors entrust to us and it would not help them remain housed over the long run. To ensure this we build a detailed budget with each of our clients to keep their monthly rent below 50% of their total income. Then, only if they are able to find a rental that fits this budget will we pay the security deposit directly to their landlord. We believe this budget is the foundation for them to stay housed for the long term. And, most importantly, if we were to place someone without a high confidence in their success, they would likely suffer an eviction, and fall further into the pit of homelessness because we wouldn’t be able to help them again and their credit history would be damaged.
Who We Help
There are many forms of homelessness.
And it’s not just the homeless you see on the street. There are also the “hidden homeless” who are in shelters, hotels, their vehicles, and others who are couch hopping from house to house with friends and relatives just to stay sheltered.
Some are homeless due to mental illness or addictions, and these individuals require many services and an entire community of providers to get off the street – it is a very complex problem with no simple solutions. Others are actually homeless by choice because they enjoy the lifestyle and they have no desire to get off the streets or they simply don’t have the recurring income to afford monthly rent.
However, there is another category of homeless that Off The Streets focuses on. These are the “Economically Homeless” who have suffered some sort of crisis (medical, financial, abuse, unforeseen evictions, etc.) and these are the individuals that we strive to help. They have income, just not enough to get out of their homeless situation. They are very motivated to get off the streets but they need a one-time hand up to do so. That’s where we come in.
First we build a budget with them to determine a monthly rent they can afford over the long term. After they find a rental that fits this budget, we help them get housed with the Security Deposit which we pay directly to the Landlord. Lastly, because many in this category have lost all their possessions, we give them a new start by providing essential household goods and furniture free of charge, most often delivered right to their new rental by our volunteers.
We would love for you to join our cause in whatever way best suites your interests, availability, and resources. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.
Our History – Huntington Beach Chapter
Frustration: Our charity was born out of frustration. A few of us on our team had been working in homeless assistance agencies and food kitchens, and while we were able to feed and clothe people and help them survive from day to day, we realized that most of the homeless we were helping had no plan to get off the streets. In addition, we realized that this daily assistance was in some ways enabling this behavior of remaining stuck in their homeless situation. Over time, this frustration motivated a few of us to look for a different and more permanent approach.
A Difficult Question: Around this same time, a long-term homeless man coincidentally asked one of us, “How can I get off the street?” We soon realized none of us really had an answer to this man’s question. So one of us went online and did what many of us do these days: we did a Google search on the question “how do you get a homeless person off the street?” And one of the top search results was a small, grass roots charity in Danbury, Connecticut called Off The Streets. We read through their site many times, found out they had placed over 200 homeless people into permanent housing over a 4 year period, and most of all, we came to the conclusion that their approach really works. After much consideration, we decided to start an Off The Streets chapter right here in Orange County.
A New Chapter is Born: Over the course of an 8 month period and with the guidance of the founding Off The Streets chapter we formed a small team and started Off The Streets – Huntington Beach. We have a focused mission to give the homeless hope; a budget and plan to get out of their situation; a financial “hand up” and not a “hand out” so that they can get and stay housed; and guidance and encouragement at every step in our process that has been proven to work.
Video: How OTS was Inspired by Kids
We learned early on that the homeless will typically throw away or ignore a brochure but they will tend to hold on to a business card. As such, we decided to make our business card our brochure, and it contains all of our most essential contact and service offering information. Email us at email@example.com if you would like a stack of these to hand out and we will gladly mail you some free of charge.