April 23, 2019

FY 2020 Budget Testimony before Philadelphia City Council April 23 2019 by the Director of the Office of Homeless Services

Good morning President Clarke and Members of City Council. I am Liz Hersh, Director of the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Homeless Services. Joining me today is David Holloman, Chief-of-Staff, and Rodney Cherry, Fiscal Officer. I am pleased to provide testimony on the Office of Homeless Services’ Fiscal Year 2020 Operating Budget.

Mission: The mission of Philadelphia’s Office of Homeless Services (OHS) is to provide the leadership, coordination, planning and mobilization of resources to make homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring in the city. OHS works with more than 60 homeless housing and service providers, as well as City, state, and federal government, to make up the homeless service system. This system provides prevention, diversion, emergency, temporary, and long-term housing to people experiencing homelessness.

Plans for Fiscal Year 2020:

  • Support, refine and expand the work to address unsheltered homelessness related to the opioid crisis including low-barrier shelter, recovery-oriented housing and employment;
  • Work with health care systems to explore new approaches to increase housing stability for people with medical and/or treatment needs who are experiencing homelessness;
  • Develop policies and test strategies to reduce the number of people who enter homelessness from institutional settings such as prison, foster care, and hospitals;
  • Develop a Facilities’ Strategic Plan;
  • Continue to implement recommendations from the PHL Participatory Design Lab to make our access points more welcoming and trauma-informed;
  • Employ mobile assessors, e.g. as multi-lingual and culturally-competent staff dispatched throughout the community to reach people who are under-represented in the homeless service system or are unable to come to centralized sites;
  • Meet the unique housing needs of people experiencing street homelessness who have an Opioid Use Disorder;
  • Expand our landlord engagement program to increase the number of landlords and housing units available to people exiting homelessness;
  • Implement a “move-on” strategy to help people exit to permanent supportive housing when they no longer need the level of enriched services provided.

Read the complete testimony.