The Streetworker program received credit for its role in creating the "Boston Miracle", a collaborative effort between the city, grassroots organizers, religious leaders, and the police that reduced the number of homicides from the roughly 1 50 in 1990 to 31 in 1999. After 1999, the Streetworkers unionized, rallying for and winning a set workday from 12 to 8. However, the city of Boston mandated that Streetworkers needed to be "qualified" to work with youth and have no criminal past, fundamentally altering its violence prevention model. As the initiatives which created the "Boston Miracle" faded or were not used as often, the homicide rate in Boston grew.[Jermaine Headlam]. Heatuam also feces skepticism from some older men and women, creating a fine and intricare line the Streetworkers have to walk in order to keep his credibility in the neighborhood. "People listen when they feel like they aren't being preached to," Headlam shares with me, "its difficult to tell people to stop gang banging and carrying guns in their waists without having them discredit what you say."When I ask Jermaine how he handles the rivalries between different crews (different neighborhoods, different gangs) and how he can work with bom "sides" he tells me that, "I just let them know Fm here to help everyone, no matter what they rep, to make sure everyone is doing what they should be doing." This indiscriminate pledge of helping those in need is the greatest strength of a Streetworker. They are connecting everyone together through service. They are uniting the streets.
Uniting the Streets
Jermaine Headlam, a Streetworker youth violence prevention practitioner, begins his day in the Bromley-Heath Projects in Jamaica Plain, a Boston neighborhood, winding in and out of the red brick apartment buildings, stopping to chat with mothers and their children, slapping hands with the young kids. The throngs of children zipping th...