Outreach and engagement are regarded by many who work in homeless programs as essential services.
Outreach on the streets and in shelters is often the first point of contact for people who are not served by traditional sitebased
services and is often the first step in engaging homeless people in services. While outreach and engagement are
critical components of the response to homelessness, consensus is lacking about the nature and effectiveness of these
services. The purpose of this paper is to examine what is known about outreach and engagement for people experiencing
homelessness. The authors review quantitative studies that examine outcomes and augment this understanding with
information from qualitative studies and non-research literature. The latter provides information about the goals of
outreach, assumptions and values, staffing issues, and consumer involvement. The paper concludes with implications for
practice, policy, and research.