Re-envisioning Homeless Services

May 23, 2018

Transforming Philadelphia’s Homeless System: Our City’s Strategic Plan (Draft)

We are a stronger city when our residents have a place to call home. Philadelphia’s homeless assistance system, known as the Continuum of Care (CoC), includes an expansive network of homeless and housing services, physical and behavioral health providers, community institutions and governmental entities, all working toward the shared goal of making homelessness rare, brief and nonrecurring. We want our system to be well-coordinated, easily accessible, and comprised of a network full of caring and dedicated supports that quickly and effectively prevent and resolve experiences of homelessness. This plan describes strategies that will guide our collective efforts to build a more comprehensive and coordinated response that puts the resources, partnerships, and systems in place to make sure all people facing homelessness get the help they need. Read the Draft Strategic Plan.

Charrette held December 19, 2017

A number of stakeholder representatives participated in a working meeting called a Charrette, to which they brought all of the feedback that they have gathered from their various constituencies to incorporate into decision-making on recommendations that will frame the plan. Given our shared goal of making homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring with a coordinated system that prioritizes its resources and employs a person-centered, housing-focused approach to apply the Housing First philosophy, we wanted to know:

  • What is working well in our approach to address homelessness?
  • What barriers and challenges are we not accounting for?
  • What aren’t we thinking about that is important to consider?
  • What opportunities do we have to innovate and increase effectiveness?
  • What does success look like?

Final Unit Projections
Input Session Table
Strategic Planning Steering Committee Rosters
Final 10 Year Plan Oct 2005
10 Year Plan Report January 2018
Re-Envisioning Philadelphia’s Homeless Assistance System 2018 –
Summary of Community Input: Charette, Input Sessions and OHS Staff Survey

Re-envisioning Philadelphia’s Homeless Services System

On the night of January 25, 2017, 5,693 Philadelphians experienced homelessness. Philadelphia has hundreds of programs in operation that provide support to community members having or at-risk of having this experience, but we have not had a community-wide collaborative process to coordinate our strategies since 2005! It is time for stakeholders invested in the mission of making homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring to:

  • Define and articulate our shared vision for our community
  • Align our efforts under one collective strategy to improve collaboration within and outside the homeless services system
  • Identify opportunities to innovate and maximize, streamline, and target existing resources
  • Quantify housing and services needed to resolve the problem
  • Develop agreed-upon goals, metrics, and performance targets, with specific processes for monitoring progress towards our shared goals

Philadelphia knows what we need to do. Long-standing shared goals and commitments have shaped our current homeless services system. We want to:

  • Open the “back door” out of homelessness by expanding permanent housing opportunities
  • Close the “front door” to homelessness by implementing successful prevention strategies
  • Ensure that no one experiencing a housing crisis needs to feel safest living on the street
  • Address the population-specific dynamics of homelessness experienced by families with children, single adults, youth, veterans and those whose experiences are chronic
  • Provide trauma-informed, low-barrier, housing-focused assistance that affirms strengths and dignity, honoring individuals’ choices about how they live their lives and prioritizing help for those who need it most


Now we need an actionable plan to which to hold ourselves accountable, which describes the roles and responsibilities that we each hold as we work to achieve these goals.

The Office of Homeless Services is working with a Stakeholder Workgroup, a Steering Committee, and the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) to lead a new community-wide collaborative planning process.

Only with input based on the experience of stakeholders who have been served by, work in, interface with, or are otherwise invested in the success of the homeless services system will this plan succeed.

Only with the fresh eyes of stakeholders outside the system will we gain insight about potential new alliances and relationships that will aid our cause.

We are asking community members about their experiences and their views during Input Sessions with the following stakeholder groups:

  • People with lived experience with homelessness – of varied demographics, whose experiences include engagement in traditional homeless services programs and those who have found support in alternative settings
  • Homeless Services Providers – Emergency Shelter, Transitional Housing, Safe Havens, Rapid Rehousing, Permanent Supportive Housing – for adults without children and for families with children
  • Philly Homes 4 Youth Coalition Subcommittees
  • Street Outreach Teams
  • Homelessness Prevention and Shelter Intake staff
  • Members of the Real Estate sector
  • Members of the Business and Hospitality sectors
  • Affordable Housing Developers
  • Philanthropists
  • Organizations Working with Immigrants & Refugees