an innovative court program that accepts as 'payment' a person's efforts to address the root causes of their homelessness


Street Outreach Court Detroit ("SOCD") offers individuals who are homeless the opportunity to resolve certain civil infractions and misdemeanors 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.

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.

How It Works

1. Get a Plan

Participants meet with a social service nonprofit ("Provider") to create an individualized, achievable Action Plan to end their homelessness. After 30 days of progress, Participants are eligible to apply for the program.

2. Work the 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.

3. Get Relief

Participants who demonstrate sustained effort toward their Action Plans are scheduled for an SOCD Hearing at Capuchin Soup Kitchen where the Judge will close or dismiss all eligible cases, waiving most fines.

Get Started Today

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


6333 Medbury St

Detroit, MI 48211

(313) 925-1370


7310 Woodward Ave #701

Detroit, MI 48202

(313) 964-1975


PO Box 04072

Detroit, MI 48204

(313) 933-9344


2835 Bagley Ave #800

Detroit, MI 48216

(313) 841-9641


253 Milwaukee St

Detroit, MI 48202

(313) 463-7065

pro bono legal partners



614 Graduates

as of 12/31/2020

can attest to the fact that SOCD changes the lives of participants, saves society over serious amounts of money, and enhances public safety.

Client and lawyer with backpacks on shoulder hug
group photo with judge and socd graduates
Organizer and socd graduate
Judge kneeling to talk with graduate's young daughters
case manager and graduate hugging

graduate with girlfriend holding sign that says "This program was the best thing I came to. Ms. Mary and the group was a great help to a new start in my life. Thanks to Larry and the others who work with the program."

group photo of Judge with graduates

attorney with graduate showing off his valid drivers license

...with lasting results

Our study on the impact of SOCD on the lives of our 2012-2015 graduates proves that functional sentences reduce recidivism three years later.

SOCD - Report - 2012-2015 Three Years Later - One Page.pdf

annual reports

2018 2019 2020

How We Started SOCD

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 eventually evolved into a specialty jurisdiction court meeting once a month to provide a more systematic approach to meeting 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, we 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, now Detroit Action, 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.

Today, we continue the legacy of paying it forward by helping other communities start their own courts.