News Release News Release The City of Palo Alto
Communications Department
250 Hamilton Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301


Subject :

Partnership Between Downtown Streets Team and Palo Alto Police Recognized with National Safety Award
Contact : Zach Perron, Lieutenant, Police Department    650-329-2413
Palo Alto, CA -- Downtown Streets Team, Palo Alto Business and Professional Association, Palo Alto Parking Committee, and the Palo Alto Police Department are being honored with a MetLife Foundation Community-Police Partnership Award for their extraordinary partnership to improve community safety in Palo Alto.  The partnership is being recognized as an Excellence in Civic Engagement for the removal of urban blight from downtown Palo Alto and their participation in the North County Alternative Services (NCAS) program. 

This partnership was selected from more than 540 applicants nationwide for one of 10 MetLife Foundation honors.  The partners' collaborative approach to improve safety and strengthen community-police relations caught the attention of the national selection committee comprised of police commanders, community development executives, and LISC staff.  They will receive $15,000 to advance the partners' joint public safety activities. 

The award is funded by MetLife Foundation, which has long supported neighborhood-based efforts to tackle crime and improve safety, and is administered by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), whose national Community Safety Initiative promotes strategic community development and policing through creative partnerships.

"Collaboration between community-based groups and police departments can reduce crime, stimulate housing and business activity, and improve the quality of life in lower-income neighborhoods," added Dennis White, president and CEO of MetLife Foundation. "The Palo Alto partnership is an exemplary model for groups nationwide facing similar challenges and opportunities."

Downtown Streets Team's core program is based around volunteer work-experience in which clients, all of whom are either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, volunteer to provide community service in exchange for basic needs stipends and case management and employment development services.  The goal of the program is to help decriminalize homelessness and offer proactive solutions to those who are caught in a cycle of poverty or the criminal justice system, providing them with meaningful daily activities that rebuild their intrinsic motivation for change. 

"We have seen first-hand the positive impact the Downtown Streets Team has had on our community," said Chief Dennis Burns of the Palo Alto Police Department.  “We’re very supportive of their work, and we couldn’t be happier to be part of such a strong partnership.”

In collaboration with the North County criminal justice system (including police, probation, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, and the Santa Clara County Public Defender’s office), social service agencies such as Downtown Streets Team, and county agencies such as the Department of Alcohol and Drug Services, the partners have developed a system that offers alternative interventions through a transitional volunteer program. The efforts benefit the community through resident and business engagement and extensive community cleanups.

“Our partnership with all these agencies has reduced homelessness in Palo Alto by 54% since 2006, and life-style crimes have been reduced,” said Eileen Richardson, the Executive Director of the Downtown Streets Team. 

“Making downtown more friendly and inviting was the goal when forming the Downtown Streets Team and it has clearly reached that goal and gone beyond. They work closely with our Downtown Parking Committee and the Palo Alto Police Department to ensure that our downtown parking garages are safe through regular patrols and outreach to those who have taken shelter there.  They also work with the City of Palo Alto’s Park and Recreation Department to make certain our downtown parks like Lytton Plaza, King Plaza and Cogswell Plaza are ready for visitors each day.  We couldn’t do it without them,” said Russ Cohen, Executive Director of the Palo Alto Downtown Business and Professional Association.

About Downtown Streets Team
Contact: Eileen Richardson, 650-462-1795,
Downtown Streets Team is ending homelessness by restoring the dignity and rebuilding the lives of unhoused men and women. Serving the community through work prepares members for permanent employment and housing.  Downtown Streets Team has helped over 200 people find permanent employment and 197 move into permanent housing after taking part in their program.  For more information about Downtown Streets Team, visit

About MetLife Foundation
MetLife Foundation was created in 1976 to continue MetLife’s long tradition of corporate contributions and community involvement.  Today, the Foundation is dedicated to advancing financial inclusion, committing $200 million over the next five years to help build a secure future for individuals and communities around the world. MetLife Foundation is affiliated with MetLife, Inc, a leading global provider of insurance, annuities and employee benefit programs, serving 90 million customers. Through its subsidiaries and affiliates, MetLife holds leading market positions in the United States, Japan, Latin America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.  For more information about MetLife Foundation, visit

About LISC
Contact: Julia Ryan, LISC, 212-455-1618,
The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) supports comprehensive, collaborative and community-driven efforts that transform neighborhoods into healthy and sustainable communities of choice and opportunity.  LISC’s national Community Safety Initiative has participated by supporting alliances between communities and law enforcement to reduce crime. LISC has administered the MetLife Foundation Community-Police Partnership Awards since 2002.  For more information about LISC, visit