Union Square News
September 7, 2016
Press Release

Union Square Business Improvement District Announces New Partnership With Downtown Streets Team

In an effort to alleviate homelessness, the Union Square Business Improvement District has collaborated with Downtown Streets Team to provide work opportunities for homeless or near homeless individuals.

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIF. (September 6, 2016) – San Francisco’s Union Square Business Improvement District (BID) has launched a partnership with Downtown Streets Team (DST), whose mission is to end homelessness, alongside the additional benefits of reactivating public spaces, increased awareness of homeless and low-income issues and fostering safe places for everyone to live, work, and play.

Downtown Streets Team contributes eight Team Members, divided up into groups of four covering the two daily shifts in Union Square. Working alongside the Union Square BID’s service provider Block by Block, homeless and unemployed individuals (referred to as Team Members) can be spotted in bright red shirts, beautifying streets around Union Square (Monday – Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. & 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.) removing trash and debris, including safely disposing of hazardous materials, such as discarded needles.

“When we started working with Block by Block in San Jose, it was an immediate fit. Homeless folks became members of Downtown Streets Team and worked to clean up downtown, all the while building skills to get a job and find a place to live. This was the best incarnation of our model in practice and our belief that the business community can be a part of ending homelessness,” states Downtown Streets Team Founder Eileen Richardson.  

In addition to beautification, Team Members engage other homeless individuals to join DST’s Team and take advantage of housing and employment services.

"We are delighted to welcome the first DST crew to Union Square. This partnership addresses two of our objectives - that of enhancing the cleanliness of the area while giving individuals an opportunity to better their lives through meaningful work," said Karin Flood, Executive Director of the Union Square BID.

Join the Union Square Business Improvement District and Downtown Streets Team on September 15, 2016 from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on Maiden Lane for a press conference announcing the launch of the Union Square Downtown Streets Team.


Homelessness is a major issue facing San Francisco, recently cited in a Chamber of Commerce poll as the No. 1 concern among residents. According to the 2015 Point-In-Time Count, homelessness has increased 7 percent between 2005 and 2013, with more than 6,600 people experiencing homelessness in San Francisco. Downtown Streets Team (DST) was founded in 2005 in Palo Alto, where there has since been a significant decrease in homelessness. DST was recently recognized by the Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce as Nonprofit of the Year, shining a light on DST’s unique, strategic approach to ending homelessness.

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The Union Square Business Improvement’s goal is to enhance and promote the Union Square district for visitors and residents through clean and safe measures, marketing, advocacy, and public realm improvements. Working in partnership with the City, the Union Square BID ensures Union Square remains a world-class destination as well as a clean, safe, attractive, and vibrant district for everyone.


The Union Square BID is the first and largest of San Francisco’s 14 property-based business improvement district/community benefit districts, providing supplemental services funded by property owners who are self-assessed. The Union Square BID is governed by a Board of Directors made up of property owners, business owners, and stakeholders. The Union Square BID works closely with City agencies to carry out our mission and are guided by a management plan.

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For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact:

Alex Lopez, Director of Marketing and Communications for the Union Square Business Improvement District at