Principles of the Doorway:
- Integrity / Dignity
- Acceptance without judgement or prejudice
- People who listen to each other learn from each other
- Life is such that things do not always work
- Forgiveness (Every day is a new day)
- All actions / choices affect other people
The Doorway approach is based on a step by step contracting process. Participants choose each successive step they need to take to get off the streets. Using MYPLAN participants write out their plan of action then discuss it with a volunteer or staff member; a key aspect of the process. This planned step becomes their contract. Participants are paid a $15 incentive for each contract they negotiate to a maximum of 8 steps per month.
Success is defined as the ability to find and sustain employment and a safe place to live as well as acquiring problem-solving skills which allow them to move forward in their lives and to feel hope in their future. Since 1988, a consistent average of 7 out of 10 participants achieve personal goals to leave the street environment.
*Participants have taught us success in getting off of the streets is not just about changing where you sleep. – read their Making Change
Why it works:
Many factors contribute to the success rate including:
- Self-determination: Participants are entirely responsible for determining what their goals, objectives and steps are going to be. In taking responsibility for their choices, they are also able to fully take credit for their successes.
- Self-directed: The Doorway believes planning your own life nurtures engagement, accountability and is the most sustainable option.
- Respect: Participants come as equal players to the environment and are always treated with dignity and respect. The separate cultures of street and non-street are recognized.
- Business Oriented Space: The Doorway is located outside of downtown, reminding young people of a life outside of downtown. As well the business-oriented space enables young people to practice and observe non-street behavior and provides them with access to telephone and computers for job searching and other personal business.
- Community Members: Young people learn by observing, listening and asking. Participants and community members can learn from each other to determine what is needed to fit into mainstream economy.
- Learning to Plan: Participants begin their 24 months by setting small goals. They figure out the steps required to meet these goals and learn to plan. Breaking seemingly impossible tasks into small manageable steps can be a new experience as well as a life-long skill they will carry forward.
- Experiencing Success: Setting goals, whether big or small, and achieving them allows participants to experience success in their lives, builds self-esteem and lays the foundation for future success.
- Incentives: The incentive is clean legal money earned and money to be proud of. It is a piece that The Doorway believes builds trust and self-esteem. When the Doorway first opened in 1988 it was suggested pay for performance works in the marketplace so why not try it with young people leaving the streets?
Long-term Support: Young people have taught us leaving the streets takes a lot of hard-work, dedication, planning, learning and re-planning which is why it’s a 24 month opportunity offered to each participant.