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.



Street Outreach Court Detroit (“SOCD”) offers individuals who are homeless or at risk of homelessness the opportunity to resolve certain types of civil infractions and misdemeanors, including warrants, by crediting their personal ameliorative efforts to address the causes of their offending behaviors (such as job training, education, and alcohol and drug rehabilitation) towards their outstanding fines, costs, and/or jail time. This is a program that requires compliance with a comprehensive action plan before any relief is granted. In essence, to be a SOCD graduate, one must “earn” the relief the SOCD offers.


By design, SOCD utilizes the expertise of each of its partners, from social service providers and defense counsel to prosecutors and judges to identify clients who worked hard to improve their lives, to marshall comprehensive legal and human services to address all of their matters, legal or otherwise.

How It Works


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A Participant meets with a social service nonprofit, a Provider, and together they draft a comprehensive Action Plan to end the Participant’s homelessness. After a minimum of 30 days of progress, they apply to SOCD for relief. Once approved, outstanding warrant are suspended, giving the Participant time to complete the Action Plan.

SOCD - Image - Get Help Icon


A Participant then continues working on the Action Plan under the close supervision of the Provider for a minimum of 60 days. At a pre-trial conference, the SOCD legal team assesses the evidence of the Participant’s progress and determines if relief is merited.

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At a session of court held in an area soup kitchen, the SOCD hears testimony about the participant’s progress and enters pleas and/or dismissals, vacates fines and costs or takes other equitable action. Afterwards, any outstanding civil matters are referred to SOCD’s pro bono attorney partners.



Capuchin Soup Kitchen – Meldrum

1264 Meldrum St

Detroit, MI 48207

(313) 925-1370


Neighborhood Legal Services

7310 Woodward Ave, Suite 701

Detroit, MI 48202

(313) 964-1975


Volunteers of America

12809 Kercheval

Detroit, MI 48215

(313) 822-2716


Capuchin Soup Kitchen – Conner

4390 Conner St

Detroit, MI 48215

(313) 822-8606


St. Leo’s Soup Kitchen

4860 15th St

Detroit, MI 48208

(313) 933-9344


Southwest Economic Solutions

2835 Bagley Avenue, Suite 800

Detroit, MI 48216 (313) 841-9641


Capuchin Service Center

6333 Medbury St

Detroit, MI 48207



SOCD aims to measure it’s effectiveness toward permanently ending homelessness.
The following statistics represent the best available data as of October 7, 2015.



SOCD has steadily increased its ability to help the homeless, each year doubling the number of participants it can serve. In 2015, SOCD projects to continue that trend and successfully graduate between 140-180 participants, the court’s maximum capacity in its current configuration.

SOCD also assesses the demographic and geographic composition of its participants to ensure that the court’s outreach efforts are equitable.

  • 2012 – 17 Graduates 14%
  • 2013 – 34 Graduates 28%
  • 2014 – 71 Graduates 58%
  • 2015 – 121 Graduates 85%
  • Total – 243 Graduates 99%



Based on participants receiving relief before 12/31/2013.



Based on participants receiving relief before 12/31/2013.



Based on participants receiving relief before 12/31/2013.



Based on participants receiving relief before 12/31/2013.




Once accepted into SOCD, participants have a high probability of completing the Action Plan and ultimately receiving relief from SOCD. Our acceptance to completion rate of 76% is more than 50% higher than the average completion rate of other Michigan specialty jurisdiction courts. See Michigan Problem-Solving Courts: Performance and Outcomes 2013




Based on participants receiving relief before 12/31/2013 who responded to our request for update (69% of all participants responded).



Based on participants receiving relief before 12/31/2013 who responded to our request for update (69% of all participants responded).



Based on review of court history at 36th District Court on all participants receiving relief before 12/31/2013. Civil infractions and traffic offenses are not considered “new convictions” by the Michigan’s Supreme Court Administrative Office when determining recidivism rates for specialty courts.



Based on review of court history at 36th District Court on all participants receiving relief before 12/31/2013.




Court Administration Savings

Based on all participants receiving relief before 12/31/2014, calculated from the Michigan Supreme Court’s State Court Administrative Office publications titled “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 cost per criminal case to be $508.48.


Savings from Reduced Crime

Based on all participants receiving relief before 12/31/2014, calculations 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.


Medical Services 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.


New Parking Settlements

Participants enter into parking settlements with the Municipal Parking Department and must make complete the payment plan before any driver’s license holds are removed.



The concept of homeless court was born of San Diego, California’s Stand Down program, a program to provide comprehensive services to veterans, including adjudication of outstanding legal matters. The program met veterans where they were, in soup kitchens and shelters, in an effort to reconnect service providers and the  court to this vulnerable population.  Due to its success, the program 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 (“DAC”), 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 presiding judges, magistrates, other governmental officials, social service agencies, and other stakeholders to create the court and convening the collaborative’s 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 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.

36th District Court

36th District Court 421 Madison Avenue Detroit, MI 48226 TDD/TTY (313) 965-4158 Fax: (313) 965-3951

For more detailed information, please see the SOCD Guidelines.