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Petaluma Downtown Streets Team

A growing number of people in Petaluma face an urgent need for shelter. Issues that contribute to our current shelter crisis, and the challenges faced by our unsheltered population, are complex and require compassion, creativity, understanding, and dedication to address. The City of Petaluma is proud to partner with Downtown Streets Team to bring a holistic approach to our work to end homelessness in our community.

Downtown Streets Team (DST) is an organization that works in partnership with the City of Petaluma to provide tailored, individualized support for people striving to overcome the challenges that contribute to experiencing homelessness. DST offers a step-by-step approach, understanding that lasting change takes time.

Program participants volunteer their time beautifying our community and receive access to employment and case management services to support them in achieving their goals.

While the end goal of DST is to provide a path to long-term employment and permanent housing, the program also offers participants case management services, a caring community, and a sense of purpose.

DST is different from other work experience programs in that participants are engaged 20 hours per week to help clean and beautify our city. In contrast to counseling or case management services that might provide 1-2 hours of interaction each week, the DST model works to establish a deep connection with participants, which allows for understanding of their unique stories and specific needs in ways that make meaningful support possible.

The program focuses on reacclimating individuals who have not been engaged in the workforce in a long time, refamiliarizing them with being accountable to a set schedule, showing up on time, and learning valuable soft skills that translate into rich employable skills, including collaboration, team work, and leadership. This lays a foundation which participants can then build upon on their journey toward long-term employment and housing.

You will see our DST Team’s brightly colored shirts around town weekdays from 8am-12pm as they both clean and beautify our City, with Team Leads providing their singular approach to homeless outreach and services.

Many participants begin as residents of well-known encampments around town (Steamer Landing, Cedar Grove, Lynch Creek Trail), spend their mornings volunteering to give back to their community, eventually transitioning to interim or permanent housing and employment as a result of the skills and support gained through the program.

“Homelessness” is a complex problem – and severe mental illness, addiction and/or major life events are not the most common cause. Often, economic hardship or family issues (such as divorce or running away from an unsafe home) are factors on one’s path to losing housing. What’s more, the experience of homelessness itself can be traumatic. For some, these events continue to stack until finding a way out feels impossible.

Because each person’s path to homelessness is unique, the services offered are tailored to the specific needs of the individual. Participants join the program with a desire to find support with the employment and housing search, but are offered much more:

  • A daily meaningful activity to participate in each day of the week
  • A community of peers and mentors
  • A goal-oriented structure through which to gain lifelong skills
  • A sense of commitment to giving back to the larger community
  • A feeling of pride in the results they create (cleaner streets, new relationships)
  • An opportunity to demonstrate leadership

These elements come together to help create confidence, dignity and a stronger sense of self for program participants. In addition to the practical and emotional benefits DST provides, the program offers the following services:

  • Case management
  • Employment support & opportunities with local companies
  • Community Outreach
  • Additional support offered through partnerships:
    • Substance use support, therapy, legal services, etc.

As with many things in life, working to end homelessness takes a village. The City of Petaluma and DST are eternally grateful to the amazing partners in our community who make our work possible and supplement services for this population that is so often overlooked. We are proud to work with:

We are also in the process of expanding our regional partnerships with organizations like Nation’s Finest, dedicated to creating better lives for veterans and their families.

Donations to support the Downtown Streets Team program can be made by sending a check to the address below with “Petaluma Team” in the memo field or by contacting Karen Strolia, Senior Director of the North Bay by email at [email protected].

If you are interested in learning more about DST, we encourage you to attend one of our Weekly Success Meetings every Thursday at 1pm on the lawn of Petaluma City Hall.

If you have questions about the program, please email [email protected] or email:

Tatiana Mora Liautaud, Project Manager, DST Petaluma – [email protected]

Karen Strolia, Senior Director of the North Bay – [email protected]

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You show up for DST, you show up for yourself.

- Tatiana Mora Liautaud, Project Manager, DST Petaluma

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