Street Outreach Court Detroit

Street Outreach Court Detroit is a collaborative project of the Michigan’s 36th Judicial District Court designed to open the doors of justice to homeless people who have already demonstrated sincere and sustained effort to end their homelessness.


an innovative court program that incentivizes the homeless to address the root causes of their homelessness

Street Outreach Court Detroit offers individuals who are homeless the opportunity to resolve certain civil infractions and misdemeanors, including warrants, by crediting their personal efforts to improve their lives toward their outstanding fines, costs and jail time. Their efforts are guided by social service professionals and may include job training, education, drug rehabilitation and mental health treatment. Attorneys provide additional representation in other criminal and civil matters that adversely affect their ability to get and stay stably housed.

By addressing all issues that led to their homelessness, SOCD gives participants the relief and tools they need to prevent a slide back into homelessness.


Create an Action Plan

Participants meet with a social service nonprofit, a Provider, to create an individualized, achievable Action Plan to end their homelessness. Participants are eligible to apply for SOCD relief after a minimum of 30 days of demonstrated progress. Once approved, any outstanding warrants are suspended, giving Participants time to complete the Action Plan.

Work the Action Plan

Participants continue working on their Action Plan under the close supervision of the Provider. During this time, Providers provide SOCD with regular status updates on Participants' progress.

Get Relief

Participants, if they are able to demonostrate sustained effort toward their Action Plans, are scheduled for an SOCD Hearing. Held at Capuchin Soup Kitchen, SOCD takes testimony about the participant’s progress and places on the record the relief granted by the court. Afterwards, any outstanding civil matters are referred to SOCD’s pro bono attorney partners.


Contact one of the organizations below to see if you qualify for SOCD.

Capuchin Soup Kitchen

1264 Meldrum St

Detroit, MI 48207

(313) 925-1370

Neighborhood Legal Services

7310 Woodward Ave, Suite 701

Detroit, MI 48202

(313) 964-1975

St. Leo's Soup Kitchen

4860 15th St

Detroit, MI 48208

(313) 933-9344

Capuchin Soup Kitchen

4390 Conner St

Detroit, MI 48215

(313) 822-8606

Southwest Economic Solutions

2835 Bagley Avenue, Suite 800

Detroit, MI 48216

(313) 841-9641

Volunteers of America

12809 Kercheval

Detroit, MI 48215

(313) 822-2716



Over 75% SOCD participants complete their action plan and are awarded relief at a rate 50% greater than the completion rates of other Michigan specialty courts


Six months after graduation, SOCD participants have...
No New Non-Traffic Convictions (100%)
No Court Contact of Any Kind (90%)

based on self-reporting participants receiving relief before 12/31/2013



IN New Payments

Graduates enter into parking settlements with the Municipal Parking Department to settle outstanding parking-related debts.


From fewer hearings

Based on the Michigan Supreme Court’s SCAO publications Michigan Problem-Solving Courts Performance and Outcomes 2013 (where it measured, among other things, recidivism rates of specialty courts and traditional courts) and Memorandum Dated November 6, 2014 (where it calculated the average administrative cost per criminal case to be $508.48


in medical cost savings

Based on 2009 study Where We Sleep: The Costs of Housing and Homelessness in Los Angeles which followed 10,193 homeless individuals and found that the typical additional public cost for medical services for the homeless is approximately $281 per individual per month. Number here represents six months of savings.


From lower recidivism

Based on a National Institute of Health study titled The Cost of Crime to Society: New Crime-Specific Estimates for Policy and Program Evaluation that estimated the total cost to the society for each new lower-level crime (larceny/theft) is $3,523 per case, 2013 written testimony from Michigan Department of Corrections to the Michigan House of Representatives that stated the current parolee recidivism rate is 31.5% (1-yr rate). Using the more stringent “No Contact” standard, savings total $46,204. These savings represent savings from 6 months from reduced recidivism rates.



The concept of homeless court was originated from San Diego’s Stand Down, a program to couple comprehensive services and legal relief for homeless veterans. Due to its success, the program eeventually evolved into a specialty jurisdiction court meeting once a month to provide a more systematic approach to addressing the needs of homeless veterans.

The establishment of 36th District Court’s Street Outreach Court Detroit is a true example of collaborative effort leading to collaborative impact. In March 2011, the Detroit Action Commonwealth, a nonprofit membership organization of homeless persons, visited the Ann Arbor Street Outreach Court to learn about the program. Independently a month later, Street Democracy, a legal services nonprofit, sent attorneys to the same court for the same purpose. Judge Elizabeth Hines, presiding judge of Ann Arbor’s court, introduced the two organizations.

DAC led the organizational effort by obtaining the commitment of the key community and governmental stakeholders and leading organizational meetings, while Street Democracy focused on the legal framework of SOCD, drafting court guidelines, process-mapping, external case management systems, creating a network of pro bono counsel, and program evaluation and improvement.

In June 2012, after over 13 months of preparation and obtaining approvals, SOCD become the 23rd homeless court in the US. To our knowledge, SOCD is the only court that combines criminal and civil pro bono counsel to address legal matters outside of the court’s jurisdiction and tracks the long-term success rate of program participants.

440 Burroughs St #634
Detroit, MI 48202

(313) 355-4460 tel
(313) 347-9763 fax