Business Department

Homeless Service Work


Homeless Service Work Certificate
Launching Fall 2024

This industry-based certificate program is designed for students who are interested in starting a career in the homeless response system. 

Students who successfully complete this program will develop a caring approach to human engagement as well as an understanding of funding sources, opportunities, and the guidelines for accessing these resources for employment in the non-profit ecosystem. They will see the importance of connecting authentic and effective relationships with oneself, their team, their community, and participants in this sector. Students also will gain an understanding of the framework involved in serving unhoused and formerly unhoused people by utilizing effective practices and strategies. Finally, using crucial hands-on field experiences with frontline homeless services workers, students will become adept at navigating support systems within a collaborative teaching and learning environment.

View Requirements

Santa Monica College's new program on working with the homeless is first of its kind.


Fall 2024 Classes

Introduction to Workforce Training within the Homeless Response System
3 units
This course will prepare students to enter the workforce within the homeless response system and the overall nonprofit ecosystem. This course will examine housing policies at the federal, state, and local levels. The students will also learn the history of the evolution of homelessness. 
Promoting Health Equity: Nonprofit Systems Management for Advocacy and Human Engagement
3 units
Students will learn why health equity is relevant within the realm of homeless services and how advocacy and human engagement strategies can help increase the likelihood of an unhoused person’s progress toward greater health and safety. Students will explore the historical context of criminalization and how this affects current practices.

Spring 2025 Classes

Implementing Effective Practices in the Homeless Response System
3 units
This course will offer a clear pathway for understanding the connection between relationship building and navigating documentation and data entry required in serving housed and unhoused people who have histories of homelessness. Students will gain a working knowledge of how each person copes with physical and mental health challenges, utilizes support services and neighborhood resources, learn how they relate with friends and family, and manage their day-to-day lives. 
Homeless Response System Capstone Class: Fieldwork Reflection and Career Planning
1 unit
This capstone class prepares students for their careers by linking theory with practical experience gained through internships. Industry experts as guest speakers share experiences, effective practices, and career advice, bridging the gap between academia and real-world applications. Students develop essential skills, enabling them to plan their career paths with competence. 
Homeless Response System Internship
2 units
This course gives students hands-on experience working with front line workers in the homeless response system. Students will gain real-world work experience of what it takes to serve un-housed persons and develop an understanding of the working environment and culture of working in the sector. 

This Certificate is Designed for Students who are Interested in:

  • Advocating and working towards economic mobility and housing justice. 
  • Navigating complex systems and problem solving for those are unhoused.
  • Providing direct service to individuals experiencing homelessness. This includes healthcare, housing and other essential services.
  • Learning about homeless response system and preparing for a career in the sector.

About These Courses

Start Your Career

  • No prerequisites & be passionate about working in the homeless service sector!

Career Focused

  • Gain skills to start a career in the homeless service work sector!


  • Built-in academic support counseling and mentorship!

First Cohort Starting Fall 2024 with Full Scholarships

  • The two Fall classes will be scheduled Wednesday morning from 9:30-10:50 and 11:15 to 12:35 in person on SMC's Main Campus.
  • Students will receive a full scholarship. All fees and materials will be covered in the program.

Homeless Service Work Careers

  • Agencies, cities and non-profits focus on key areas: Homeless Prevention, Street Outreach, Interim Housing, Permanent Housing Affordable Housing and Supportive Services.  
  • To Learn more visit the LA County Homeless Initiative Website.

Frequently Asked Questions