Brandon Davis

Brandon-1

“I’m the project director of the Downtown Streets team in San Francisco. It’s a work experience team where unhoused or at risk individuals are welcome to volunteer in various community projects, like the beautification of different areas of the city, in exchange for a basic needs stipend, case management support, and employment pipelines. My job is to run the work send people out with really positive work habits so that when they’re ready, we’re able to graduate them on into employment.”

“I’ve been working with the homeless community for about 9 years, ever since I moved to the Bay, and I was struck with how uplifted the Downtown Streets team participants are. They carry themselves with a tremendous amount of pride. Both my parents are deaf so I know what it is to be involved in marginalized communities. Marginalized communities look inward to each other rather than outward because they’ve often been rejected so often. Every failure in our community leads to homelessness so there’s not really anything that I believe in more than doing this work. It’s been an honor to assist folks who have experienced such trauma and really fallen through the cracks.”

Brandon-3“What’s your favorite part of this work?”

“My favorite part of this work is getting to know folks who have seen adversity. Getting to work alongside them and see them to their full potential. Very often in the United States we’re not seeing people to their full potential.”

“What’s the most challenging part of this work?”

“One of the most challenging things about this process is sustaining a non-profit. It’s not easy to fund a non-profit and people who work at non-profits don’t get paid much. It feels to me that that should be the opposite. Sometimes it’s hard to have to beg for something that you believe in so much because you just want people to be with you. We have an effective model, we’re on the ground providing quality services and moving people out of homelessness. Why are we not growing to support the 40 people on the wait list? There are people who want our help to get their lives on track just waiting for there to be space for them to get help.”

Brandon-2“We need affordable housing for individuals who are caught in this gap and are ready to be self-sufficient but don’t have that leg up to move themselves from the streets into a $17 job into housing, into their career job. That’s what it should look like but that’s nearly impossible when even the social workers in our agency can’t afford to live in San Francisco.”

“What would it take to expand your organization?”

“It takes about $100/week to support an individual with our stipend which helps with rent, groceries, dental, or cell phone. That’s the minimum but every dollar we get we’re going to figure out a way to help more people.”

Find out more about how Downtown Streets is helping end homelessness at http://streetsteam.org/Brandon-4

Dijon

February 8, 2017