Revamped ambassador program designed to ease lives downtown

Revamped ambassador program designed to ease lives downtown

Helpers dressed in green shirts and lighter green high-visibility jackets roaming around downtown Burbank aren’t public works employees still celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.

They are members of the downtown district’s revamped ambassador program, which, since March 11, provides an extra set of eyes and ears to keep the city safe and clean. Mary Hamzoian, economic development manager for Burbank, said the Downtown Burbank Property and Business Improvement District hired Streetplus, a company that provides ambassador services, for a year to address the homelessness and street-performer issues in the downtown area, as well as provide locals and tourists with information about local businesses.

The district is governed by the nonprofit the Downtown Burbank Partnership and was formed in 2003 as part of the city’s efforts to revitalize downtown Burbank. Read more

TGSSD Receives New Vehicle


It’s time to replace the old vehicle at TGSSD with this new vehicle. The Streetplus new standard for clean team vehicles is the Chevy Colorado Crew Cab. Now it’s time to install the two-way radio, all-weather floormats and seat cover, light bar and wrap! This will be a welcomed addition to the program in New Haven, CT.

Berkeley program focused on work aims to offer lifeline to the homeless

Downtown Streets Team member Leona starts a shift cleaning sidewalks. The program provides skills and work experience to help people who are homeless, or at-risk of becoming homeless, get paid jobs. Photo: Kate Rauch

Downtown Streets Team member Leona starts a shift cleaning sidewalks. The program provides skills and work experience to help people who are homeless, or at-risk of becoming homeless, get paid jobs. Photo: Kate Rauch

On a recent clear, cold afternoon a crew of workers in colorful T-shirts swept downtown Berkeley gutters and sidewalks, collecting trash and raking up yellowed leaves.

Green shirts were team leaders. Yellow shirts marked team members, those who were in earlier stages of the program.

A few of the crew knew the neighborhood well, having slept in doorways or parks, or hung out on benches or stoops passing time until shelter doors open at the end of the day.

Many people familiar with downtown Berkeley have seen the downtown ambassadors, who also wear bright T-shirts and clean public spaces. But this team is new to the city, and different.

The crew is part of a program called Downtown Streets Team which launched in Berkeley in the fall of last year, and is still in ramp-up mode, according to Julia Lang, the Streets Team’s East Bay director. Unlike the ambassadors, who are paid employees, Streets Team members are volunteers, though they receive a stipend in the form of a gift card or help with phone or transportation costs for their time. Read More.

Kristin Murphy, KSL Utah leaders: Give to the homeless but be smart — and don't stop when holidays end

A homeless man approaches Jared Arvanitas, Downtown Ambassador program manager, to ask for assistance in downtown Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018. (Photo: Kristin Murphy, KSL)

By Katie McKellar, KSL | Posted Dec 4th, 2018

SALT LAKE CITY — Jared Arvanitas, manager for the Downtown Alliance's ambassador program, says he and his team walk an average of 13 miles a day in their work to help those living on the streets.

Arvanitas' breath wisped in the air as he moved briskly up South Temple toward City Creek Center — what he called a "hot spot" for panhandling and a common gathering place for people experiencing homelessness.

"It's taken me nine months to develop a rapport on these streets," Arvanitas explained, grinning as he told of how he's been attacked, shouted at and dismissed before finally gaining trust. "I've chipped away at that plate mail, one link at a time."

The challenges are year-round, though they change with the seasons. In summer, the drug dealing and overdoses run more rampant, he said. In winter, it's the fear of finding someone frozen to death on the street. Read More

Our hard working Ambassadors get noticed in Sherman Oaks

SO BID Logo.jpg


This is a bit strange, I know, but when I was in the shopping center earlier today (around 10:30AM), I noticed that the gentleman sweeping and cleaning the parking area and to the Van Nuys Blvd. part of the street was working very hard and very earnestly. He was wearing a shirt with the shopping village logo. These days it's not so common to see people working hard when no one is looking-so I figured he deserved a shout out and some recognition.


Ambassador Ramiro Mejia-Perez

Ambassador Ramiro Mejia-Perez


Thank you so very much for your compliment! We try so hard to keep the Village clean and maintained and we have been so happy with this terrific crew of dayporters and it means alot to get positive reinforcement from a visitor to the Village. I will pass along your compliment and you will make a number of people happy today.

All the Best.
Leslie Elkan, President, Village at Sherman Oaks BID

San Francisco’s 6th Street provides a personal safety presentation for the community

CMCBD logo.png

San Francisco’s 6th Street Corridor Manager, Suzianne Chapa (photographed), provides a personal safety presentation for the community at Zendesk in June 2018. The presentation covered topics ranging from the role that Streetplus and the community benefit district (CBD) play in the community, along with a slide show. Ms. Chapa shared valuable safety prevention and public safety tips for people who work and live in the area, the daily functions of the Streetplus Community Guide & Cleaning Guide teams, as well as an overview of statistics that her team captures on a daily basis. Her tips helped guide her audience to feel more confident during their daily routines. Some topics Ms. Chapa discussed included awareness of surroundings especially while using electronic devices, awareness of body language from a potential criminal and keeping valuable items out of plain view. She held a Q&A session following the presentation.

Streetplus staff and sponsorship support for Civic Center Commons events and activities are being recognized by the public

Civic Center logo.png

I come from San Jose to the Civic Center area at least once a week. I park in the Civic Center Garage. I've been doing this for about 6 years. At times during these years, parking and walking around the the Civic Center area, specifically the lawns in front of City Hall, was scary, filthy, dangerous, and disturbing. There were several times that I felt threatened, and the only times in my life that I witnessed crimes being committed were in that area. It was an embarrassment to the city.

This past weekend I was In the area again, and Instead of rushing through to get to my destination, I stopped and appreciated the new playground areas, the lights strung between the trees, and sculpture art in the middle of the park. and the recently added restaurant. It’s beautiful. And it's a nlght-and-day difference from what the area used to contain. Most Importantly though, the area is staffed with security guards and employees, making sure that there Is no criminal behavior and loitering around the playgrounds and parking garage entrance. This has made a huge difference to the safety and security of the area, and Invites one to actually appreciate the amenities in the perk rather than trying to just get through as quickly as possible.

Thanks again for cleaning up the areal!

Travls Wise
San Jose, California

“Ambassadors” Kept Off The Green

Town Green ambassador patrols near, but not on, the Green.

Town Green ambassador patrols near, but not on, the Green.

by THOMAS BREEN | Aug 26, 2018

When the New Haven Green was hit by over 100 K2-related overdoses, downtown’s “ambassadors” — whose mission is to help keep the center of town clean and safe — could only stand by across the street.

That’s because the ambassadors, two dozen yellow-and-blue-uniformed workers employed by the Town Green Special Services District with the goal of cleaning and patrolling nine square miles around the Green, are not allowed on the Green itself.

The overdoses prompted renewed calls for the privately hired force to work on the Green itself. It turns out that disputes over money and labor rules have stopped that from happening.

“We get to know people,” said Terrence McIntosh, who has run the District’s ambassadors program since 2015. “We get to know their names, where they’re from.”

During last week’s crisis on the Green, he said, “all we could do was just sit and watch.”
Read More

Reading DID personnel, manager applauded

Statistics show they had a very busy second quarter.



The Reading Downtown Improvement District authority board is happy with the work of Chris O. Vazquez and the 11 member DID crew he manages. Read more

Beloved Man Who Brought Joy To Downtown Commuters Honored With Memorial

"I don't think people will ever forget" Raymond Ferguson's love and selflessness, friends said.

Raymond Ferguson (left) dines with a member of nonprofit SPARK (Students Performing Acts of Random Kindness) in 2015. 

Raymond Ferguson (left) dines with a member of nonprofit SPARK (Students Performing Acts of Random Kindness) in 2015. 

DOWNTOWN — An impromptu memorial for a man who became a beloved figure in the Loop has been set up near the man’s go-to spot at State and Randolph.

That’s where the man, Raymond Ferguson, would warmly greet every passerby, tossing out jokes, giving directions to those in need and sending everyone warm wishes. Ferguson, who was homeless, was in that area nearly every day for years before dying June 18. He was 55.

“Have a nice day, guys,” Raymond would tell the strangers — who became his friends — as they went by. “God is good.”

Jonathan Boyden, a street ambassador for the Chicago Loop Alliance, spoke to Raymond every day for years while walking the streets. Boyden’s job focuses on reaching out to people who are experiencing homelessness like Raymond did, helping them connect with resources that can help them. Read More

Editorial: To help homeless, more housing is the answer

Michael Lopez, with the Central Market Community Benefit District, calls for medical assistance for a man lying on the sidewalk on Market Street near Seventh Street in San Francisco, Calif. on Tuesday, March 6, 2018. | Paul Chinn, The Chronicle

Michael Lopez, with the Central Market Community Benefit District, calls for medical assistance for a man lying on the sidewalk on Market Street near Seventh Street in San Francisco, Calif. on Tuesday, March 6, 2018. | Paul Chinn, The Chronicle

Too many Californians want to ignore the cause of homelessness; the answer is obvious in the Bay Area

By Chronicle Editorial Board

Homelessness arises from a lack of homes. That conclusion of a recent UCLA study would seem intuitive, given that lacking a home and being homeless are one and the same. But the connection between the state’s gaping housing shortage and its spreading homelessness still strikes too many Californians as a great controversy requiring endless debate. Read More

Newark Downtown Horticulture team beautifies the downtown

Planting over 200 planters throughout the district.

Businesses applaud Downtown Ambassador program, say Salt Lake is safer

Businesses applaud Downtown Ambassador program, say Salt Lake is safer


(KUTV) — You might not see them, but they’re making a difference.

After three months, businesses are applauding Salt Lake City’s Downtown Ambassador program for helping keep the core friendly, clean and safe.

The most notable difference is in the homeless community.

“We felt like we were in danger down here,” Noel Goeller, general manager of Caputo’s Market said. “It was getting really, really bad with the homeless population. And since everything has kicked into play, our neighborhood is safer!” Read More

Congratulations to Aileen Morales

Aileen Award.jpg

Aileen Morales, Office Manager at the new Ambassador Academy Center in downtown Los Angeles, was recently recognized by the Honorable Jose Huizar, District 14 Los Angeles City Councilman.  The award was a Certificate of Appreciation.  Pictured with Aileen is Senior Lead Officer (SLO) Sean Lewis of the Los Angeles Police Department.  Congratulations to Aileen on being recognized for her outstanding performance.

Retail workers on State Street happy as armed guards begin patrol

Mitch Dudek

@mitchdudek | email

Two armed guards began patrolling State Street downtown Thursday and retail employees along the thoroughfare were thrilled.

“There’s a lot of young people who come in and snatch and grab and run and people with mental problems who come in and go off on people and make a scene,” said the manager of an electronics store who didn’t want to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Some retailers along the busy business district said such instances are often a weekly, if not daily, occurrence.

“Their presence will probably dissuade people just with the intention of stealing from coming downtown to State Street,” said the manager of a clothing store who also didn’t want to be named.

Armed private security guards hitting State Street

POSTED: MAR 01 2018 04:16PM CST


UPDATED: MAR 01 2018 06:27PM CST

CHICAGO (AP) - Armed security guards are starting to patrol a popular shopping area in downtown Chicago.

The two uniformed guards will be dispatched to State Street south of the Chicago River for several hours during the day and again in the late afternoon and evening in a visible effort to prevent retail theft and other crimes.

An organization of local businesses and groups called the Chicago Loop Alliance hired a security company to patrol an area of Chicago where police are often busy racing from call to call and may not be able to respond as quickly as local businesses would like.

Armed Security Guards to Patrol State Street on Weekends

Armed security guards will begin patrolling one of the most popular shopping areas in downtown Chicago. 

The guards, which will be provided by HLSA Security according to a press release from the Chicago Loop Alliance (CLA), will patrol State Street between Wacker Drive and Congress Parkway beginning on Thursday morning.

The guards will be in uniform, be armed, have badges, and will be able to make arrests according to the CLA.

According to the press release, the guards will patrol Thursdays between 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., and between 4:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Read More

Salt Lake City Bumble Bees


If you venture downtown this spring, you might see folks in yellow shirts walking in pairs, like two purposeful bumblebees sans the black stripes. The shirts have a logo and the words "Ask Me!" These are your new Downtown Ambassadors, paid for by the Downtown Alliance, Salt Lake City and Visit Salt Lake. Years ago, members of the Chamber of Commerce would go out monthly in white coats, welcome people to town and invite them to meetings. These guys were not paid, whereas the new ambassadors are getting a wage. This program is a little different.

According to the Downtown Alliance website, these ambassadors have three goals: 1. Answer questions from visitors and find out where they are from; 2. Be vigilant in busier parts of downtown; 3. "Act as the eyes and ears for the homeless population," and inform them about how to take advantage of local services.

Mind you, they're not cops, but in a way are acting like cops. They'll watch out for crime and particularly watch the homeless in specific locations downtown. They don't have guns or tasers, just phones to call 911 or service providers.

The need for extra sets of eyeballs on the street is due mostly to a cry from local businesses finding that the Salt Lake City police are too damned busy busting drug dealers around the shelter and aren't available to roust panhandlers from in front of Temple Square or City Creek 20 times a day. These yellow ambassadors will interface with the homeless and panhandlers and get to know them. They won't be afraid to sit down next to them and talk about why they are there, and offer them services to hopefully get them help.

The program is based on a similar one that the Chicago Loop Alliance created for its downtown area. They contracted with private entity Streetsplus to walk their downtown areas and get cozy with the people who work, visit and live there. Streetplus has been working in New York City for more than 25 years, too, and provides cleaning, safety and hospitality services to 60 downtown areas around the United States. By this summer, you might see up to a dozen Streetplus pairs in the core blocks of downtown, around our convention center and tourist sites. They get rave reviews for their work, so let's give them a chance in our capital city for a year and measure the results.

Salt Lake City launches new downtown ambassador program


(KUTV)- Thanks to the Downtown Alliance, Salt Lake City, and Visit Salt Lake, the first "Downtown Street Ambassador Program" launched Thursday.

The Ambassador Program has three purposes:

Answer questions about where to go, what to see and what to do for newcomers to downtown, whether they are traveling from other parts of Utah, nationally or internationally.

Provide an additional level of safety and security in busier parts of downtown. Our ambassadors are able to communicate with dispatch (just like any other citizen) in case of an emergency.

Act as the eyes and ears for our homeless population, to ensure these community members are aware of service providers, and how and where to take advantage of hot meals or a bed, should they choose. Ambassadors are not security officers or police officers: they carry no weapons and are there purely and simply to help.

"The Ambassador Program aims to create an even more welcoming and safe city center for residents and visitors, as well as providing additional outreach efforts for people experiencing homelessness,” Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski said. “This ambassador program is yet another service the City is excited to provide, along with our partners at the Downtown Alliance and Visit Salt Lake.”

The initial phase of the program started in early Nov., and since the beginning of Feb., the Ambassadors have attracted quite the attention downtown patrolling in their bright yellow uniforms. Staring in April, up to a dozen Ambassadors will be seen in areas throughout the summer and fall. Ambassadors will patrol the streets between 7:30 a.m. - 11:30 p.m., daily and during the winter months from 9 to 5:30 p.m.

“Our ambassadors are already making a big difference, helping visitors and locals find their ways and feel even more welcome in downtown,” Downtown Alliance executive director Jason Mathis said. “They are also working with panhandlers or homeless people who may need to access services. Downtown belongs to everyone and this program is just one more way we are working to help everyone feel welcome in our urban center.”

According to a press release, "the Salt Lake Program was modeled after the Chicago Loop Alliance, including contracting services with StreetsPlus, a national company who specializes in providing ambassador services in several major cities." Representatives from both organizations joined Salt Lake City’s leaders for Thursday's launch.