Human Shorter Link: ktownforall.org/outreach-best-practices

Short Link: ktownforall.org/2ps2fpn

How Outreach with KFA Worked Pre-COVID

  1. Folks would gather at Immanuel Presbyterian at 3 pm on Saturday. We’d break into groups, divide up the supplies we had that day, and head out on our routes, either on foot or by car.
  2. After outreach folks who wanted to would regroup at a local bar or restaurant to decompress, talk about their routes that day, and/or just hang out.

How Outreach with KFA Works Now

  1. We now make supply kits to drop off during outreach which are zip-locks containing our primary supplies: wet wipes, granola bar, candy, garbage bag, mask, hand sanitizer, and zine containing resources (all items pending availability).
  2. Folks sign up on the sign-up sheet to make supply kits and/or deliver the supply kits or deliver meals. The sign-up sheet currently gets posted on our Discord. However, if there is interest, we do plan on emailing this out once a month.
  3. Folks who are making kits will either pick up the supplies from a KFA member or have them delivered if necessary, then coordinate with the person dropping off the kits (if it’s a different person) regarding kit pick-up.
  4. Folks will drop off the kits on the route they signed up for on Saturday or Sunday at a time convenient to them (but within afternoon hours so as not to disturb folks in the morning or at night).  
  5. Most Saturday nights we now have a Google Meets happy hour in lieu of meeting up in person after outreach. Any member of KFA is welcome to join regardless if you did outreach that day.

Additional Notes

  1. Anyone under 18 participating in KFA outreach must be accompanied by a guardian or adult family member.
  2. To ensure the  safety of our volunteers and unhoused, members of law enforcement are not welcome at KFA outreach.

KFA Outreach Best Practices

  1. It’s important to remember that we are dropping by people in their homes and that we should be respectful like we would if we were visiting anyone. People who are unhoused are living in trauma. If people seem a little different or out of it, some of that is because they are regularly living in traumatic situations. Keep in mind that we’re trying to meet them where they are. This might mean understanding, listening, or walking away.   
    1. Open by saying you’re with Ktown for All and the items you are offering. Don’t press if individuals do not want items or help, or don’t respond. If someone ignores you or asks you to leave, respect that.
      1. Feel free to introduce yourself, but don’t press someone to respond in kind. Sometimes people may be uncomfortable sharing personal information.
      2. Do not engage with arguments or fights. If a situation starts to escalate, tell your team lead and walk away with your group as a group. Try and stay with your group as well.
      3. Offer to listen to people, but don’t ask prying questions about how or why they are homeless. Avoid engaging with or using racist, sexist, transphobic, or other exclusionary or discriminatory languages, even if we hear it.
      4. As a rule, don’t take videos or pictures of folks or their encampments during outreach, and absolutely never without consent. On rare occasions, it may be appropriate to ask for permission to film/photograph and share on Ktown for All social media; for example, if someone describes how encampment sweeps have impacted them.   If you ask for consent, also be clear on how you wish to use the pictures/videos and make it clear that they have the option to refuse.
      5. If you wish to film or photograph outreach volunteers, we ask that you request, in advance, if any individual would like to speak on camera or be photographed, and set up a later time and place to do so.
  2. Don’t knock on tents, shake tents, open by asking if anyone is home, or reach into tents without permission. These are private dwellings and we need to be respectful of them.
    1. We’ve learned that people are often roused by police shaking tents or asking if anyone is home.
  3. Don’t make promises and manage expectations. We cannot guarantee outcomes, so it is best to be upfront and honest and only offer supplies we have on hand.
    1. If someone requests an item that we don’t have on hand, we can offer to try and obtain, but do not guarantee anything beyond trying. Notify KFA on the Discord or by emailing outreach@ktownforall.org of any such requests (item, the person requesting, location) and we’ll do our best to fulfill.
    2. Please don’t misrepresent yourself or Ktown for All. We are not with the city, county, or any law enforcement agency but just neighbors that are handing out items that have been donated to us. In order for us to build trust with our unhoused neighbors, we’ve found it is very important that we truly represent ourselves as neighbors or friends, and are not associated with several agencies that have failed to build trust with our unhoused neighbors. Many people we meet are distrustful of institutions, particularly city or county ones with resources that they don’t see. These include LAPD, LA City Council, the LA Board of Supervisors, the LA City Attorney’s office, LA Sanitation, and many others. If you’d like more information on this, we can direct you to the publicly filed lawsuit we’ve filed against the City for how their actions have eroded trust with people experiencing homelessness. Please remember that while you’re out, your actions will reflect on the organization. That might mean that activities that are fine on your own time may reflect less well on the organization as a whole.

Connecting to resources

  1. At this time, Ktown for All distributes a zine with resources available in our area.
  2. Our members and network have a collective knowledge of available resources and programs. If someone requests help in accessing services, ask members you know or post in the Discord for advice.
    1. Connect the individual if it seems appropriate and will do no harm. The Los Angeles Homeless Outreach Portal (LA HOP) is a good starting point: LA-HOP.org.
    2. Be sure to consider your own privacy and confidentiality during this process.

Emergencies and Safety*

  1. Unless there is an imminent threat to safety, we do not call any agency, particularly law enforcement, without consent.
  2. These are situations you are unlikely to encounter. This section is to be utilized in the off chance an emergency situation occurs.
  3. Very basic first aid kits (bandages, antibiotic cream, gauze) are available to interested volunteers.
  4. If at any point you feel unsafe or uncomfortable completing your route, it is absolutely ok to end your outreach early. The safety of you and all our volunteers should be your highest priority.
    1. If you or anyone in your group feels unsafe, leave together as soon as it is safe to do so.
  5. If a volunteer is wounded or endangered and is ABLE to respond:
    1. First, ask them how you can help.
    2. Follow their request unless you deem their response dangerous or worse than your own instinct to protect them.
  6. If a volunteer is wounded or endangered and is UNABLE to respond:
    1. Call 911
      1. We try to keep law enforcement and city agencies out of our outreach, so this action should only be taken in serious emergencies. When on the phone with the dispatcher, request paramedics – not police.
  7. When approaching someone with a mental health crisis, treat them normally, kindly, and approach them like you would any other person.
  8. Alert other outreach leads to the issue so they may respond and come to assist or advise.
  9. Please only take pictures or video if it will be needed by emergency responders, or if you intend to participate in legal action against an assailant.

Providing Feedback about your Outreach experience

  1. If you have updates on any of the following, tell O&P co-chairs directly, or email outreach@ktownforall.org
    1. Your route
    2. New routes
    3. Requests
    4. New inventory items
    5. Common requests
    6. Problems
    7. Improvements

COVID-19 Special Outreach Procedures

Outreach and Meal Drops done on behalf of Ktown for All should be done by experienced outreach lead volunteers, or those who have participated in our virtual outreach training.

  1. Volunteers should engage in the following safety protocols:
    1. Kit & Meal drops should ideally be done solo or with other parties from your household.
    2. No volunteer should do outreach or meal drops if they are experiencing any discomfort, fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, chills, muscle aches, loss of smell or taste, or headache.
    3. For your personal safety as well as the safety of our unhoused neighbors, who often lack stable access to medical care, using protective equipment during outreach is highly important.
      1. Wearing a cloth or medical face mask/covering over the nose and mouth is mandatory, both during outreach and when assembling kits.
      2. You should use hand sanitizer and/or gloves, sanitizing hands, and/or changing gloves between encampments.
      3. Clear plastic face shields are an additional barrier that many of our members choose to use, in addition to a face mask.
      4. If you do not have access to any of the above equipment, we may be able to get some for you. Don’t hesitate to ask.
      5. Volunteers should maintain social distancing practices.
    4. When distributing kits and/or meals:
      1. Wear a mask when loading kits and/or meals into your vehicle.
      2. Maintaining social distancing is more difficult when distributing kits and meals but can usually be achieved by:
        1. Try to communicate politely and efficiently that you are trying to maintain a social distance. This can help prevent people from coming up to you without a safe amount of space.
        2. Ideally, placing the kit/bagged meal on the ground or nearby surface, and stepping away from the bagged meal so it can be picked up.
        3. You may encounter some individuals who are not receptive to your social distancing request. If someone comes right up to you, try to keep the interaction short. Quickly hand them the meal and step back until you are the recommended six feet away.
      3. Specifically relating to meal drops, letting people know what the meal is will help prevent multiple people from handling the container or food if someone has dietary restrictions or finds that specific meal unappealing.  

Additional Document that may be helpful or of interest:

http://wraphome.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/wrap-manual.pdf