"Streetwork" in New York City
June 11, 1999
There are a number of innovative programs existing through Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) funds in the NYC EMSA. One is the Streetwork Project, which provides outreach to homeless, street-involved youth, many of whom have utilized prostitution as a means of survival, and drug use as a coping mechanism; Streetwork targets difficult-to-engage youth whom the system has failed to engage in services through more traditional means. Through provision of food, showers, laundry services, clothes, legal help, and an array of one-on-one counseling and group activities, Streetwork's HIV-positive and at-risk clients are encouraged to participate in serostatus testing, HIV/AIDS housing programs, primary medical care, and the full range of services required to enable these young people to get off the street, and maintain a less destructive, lifestyle.
One Streetwork client, "Patrick," met the program's outreach workers at a New York City park where many "counter-culture" substance-using youth congregate. At age 19, Patrick was homeless, an active heroin addict and a prostitute. He was initially distrustful and expressed no interest in becoming engaged in Streetwork's services. After repeated contacts, Patrick eventually came to the Streetwork drop-in center, initially eating some food and using the program's shower. Over time, Patrick was engaged into a variety of services, including primary medical care, drug treatment, educational activities and vocational training. Patrick currently lives with his grandmother, is employed, and he maintains phone contact with his Streetwork counselor to maintain stability in his life's activities.
This article was provided by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
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