Mission Statement:

The Homeless Services Center partners with individuals and families to create pathways out of their homelessness into permanent housing.

We hold firmly to a vision that homelessness in Santa Cruz County should be rare, brief, and non-recurring.

To learn about our volunteer needs, please visit our Volunteer Opportunities page.

For information about how to log your hours, visit our Volunteer Resources page.

For more information about Homeless Services Center and our programs, visit our website.

Where do we start?

HSC believes that homelessness is in itself a form of trauma. People that are experiencing homelessness are always under stress of where they are going to sleep, shower, eat and they are often witnesses or victims of violence.  Studies have shown that homelessness is also often caused by traumatic events including neglect, psychological abuse, physical abuse, and sexual abuse during childhood, community violence, combat-related trauma, domestic violence, accidents, and disasters.

Our organizational framework involves understanding, recognizing, and responding to the effects of trauma. While also emphasizing physical, psychological and emotional safety for guests, staff and volunteers. Our goal is to partner with people to rebuild a sense of control and empowerment.

We strive to create and maintain a safe environment to advocate for and support participants on their journey to stability in housing.

We also believe in and practice Harm reduction as a client based approach that guides our relationships with those we serve.

According to the Homeless Hub website Harm reduction is an approach or strategy aimed at reducing the risks and harmful effects associated with substance use and addictive behaviors for the individual, the community and society as a whole. It is deemed a realistic, pragmatic, humane and successful approach to addressing issues of substance use. Recognizing that abstinence may be neither a realistic or a desirable goal for some users (especially in the short term), the use of substances is accepted as a fact and the main focus is placed on reducing harm while use continues.”

In other words we do not require folks to be sober to receive services. We meet people where they are at while also working to evoke change from them without it being a requirement or a barrier to services.

All of this lays the foundation of our partnership. What about housing?

We are a Housing First Organization! According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness

Housing First is an approach that offers permanent, affordable housing as quickly as possible for individuals and families experiencing homelessness, and then provides the supportive services and connections to the community-based supports people need to keep their housing and avoid returning to homelessness.

This means that we are trying to end people’s experience with homelessness as fast as we can while simultaneously working towards ending chronic homelessness. The longer a person is experiencing homelessness the longer they are exposed to trauma. This dramatically affects their success in permanent housing.

Two common program models follow the Housing First approach but differ in implementation. Permanent supportive housing (PSH) is targeted to individuals and families with chronic illnesses, disabilities, mental health issues, or substance use disorders who have experienced long-term or repeated homelessness. It provides long term rental assistance and supportive services. A second program model, rapid re-housing, is employed for a wide variety of individuals and families. It provides short-term rental assistance and services. The goals are to help people obtain housing quickly, increase self-sufficiency, and remain housed. The Core Components of rapid re-housing—housing identification, rent and move-in assistance, and case management and services—operationalize Housing First principles.