January 24, 2019

Volunteers fan out across Philadelphia to count city’s homeless youth

Tim Jimenez, KYW News radio
A group of about 100 volunteers were out in the rain Thursday morning to try to get an idea of how many young people are homeless in Philadelphia. It’s called the Youth Count. It coincides with the annual homeless count the city does, but it focuses on people between ages 13 and 24.

“We really want to get a snapshot in time of what youth homelessness looks like in Philadelphia,” said Caitlin Dorn, who works with Valley Youth House, a social services nonprofit that helps organize the count.  Read the  article.

January 22, 2019

A bill signed into law Tuesday will offer some protections to month-to-month renters in Philadelphia from discriminatory or vindictive evictions. Read the article.

January 15, 2019

Homeless baby boomers a fast-growing presence in U.S. cities

by Stacey Burling, Inquirer
If current trends continue, the number of aging homeless people will more than double in three major metropolitan areas by 2030 . . . Read the article.

January 18, 2019

Why so few of Philly’s homeless Latinos use shelters, get city services

January 15, 2019

Government shutdown delays construction on addiction recovery housing in Kensington

On Tuesday morning, at the tail end of a groundbreaking ceremony for a new housing complex for people coming out of addiction and homelessness, Sister Mary Scullion leaned into the microphone.

“One other little note I just want to say is that this building’s ready to go. We’re ready to get under construction,” said the president and executive director of Project HOME, the city’s preeminent housing, poverty, and homelessness services organization.

“And we need one piece of paper signed” by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. “And because of the government shutdown, we’re waiting.”

It was a last-minute delay for a project located in the physical heart of Philadelphia’s opioid crisis that has already been five years in the planning. Project HOME has been working to build apartments in a former elementary school at 1920 E. Orleans St. in Kensington, just blocks from the neighborhood’s last major homeless encampment. Read the article.

December 18, 2018

‘Your story doesn’t end here’: New project aims to give hope to Philly’s homeless. Information and inspirational messages

A new awareness campaign in Center City aims to bring information on shelter and food, as well as a message of hope to Philadelphians without a home this winter.

December 18, 2018

Campaign targets homeless, seeks public’s help

Associated Press/Philadelphia Tribune

With panhandling and homelessness ramping up on the sidewalks of Center City, a homeless advocacy group and a business improvement district have teamed up in an outreach effort and are asking the public to get involved.

Paul Kurtz/KYW News Radio
LaToya Singleton is one of five formerly homeless people who are about to become Philly famous.Their photos and messages of hope will appear in ads posted on 70 transit shelters

 throughout Center City, as part of Project HOME and Center City District’s new homeless outreach campaign.

December 18, 2018

Philly and Project HOME announce new awareness campaign for homelessness

Alfred Lubano/The Inquirer
“As we know, it’s really cold outside,” said Sister Mary Scullion, executive director of Project HOME, a nonprofit that aids the homeless. “And today, new people will end up on our streets. How can we best communicate to them where they can get shelter and a meal?”

The answers, she said, were the 70 bus-shelter (also called transit-shelter) ads — 50 digital, 20 print — that are being placed throughout Center City this week. In the ads, five people who were once homeless impart the message to those who currently are living rough: “Your story doesn’t end here. I know because mine didn’t.”

November 1, 2018

Pulling back the curtain on trauma faced by Philadelphia’s homeless youth

  Curbed Philadelphia
By Anna Merriman

City plans massive Kensington Avenue clean up project

By Grace Shallow / CONTRIBUTOR

This innovative intake system model aims to shorten wait times for social services

“Shortened wait times is one of many goals of centralized intake systems (we’ll call them “c-intake systems” here), which hinge on collaboration between providers.

In Philadelphia, the homeless services, home visiting and legal sectors are all currently developing ways to bring this method to their clients.”

  Josh Kruger,  Office of the Mayor 

The Philadelphia Resilience Project: Our response to the opioid crisis

“On October 3, 2018, Mayor Jim Kenney signed Executive Order 3-18 declaring a citywide emergency and empowering City agencies to come together to immediately solve the problem.”

“What the Resilience Project does

It focuses on seven critical mission areas:

  • Clearing major encampments.
  • Reducing criminal activity.
  • Reducing the number of unsheltered individuals.
  • Reducing trash and litter.
  • Reducing overdoses and the spread of infectious diseases.
  • Increasing treatment options.
  • Mobilizing community response.”

Read the article

September 19, 2018

Philadelphia’s Kensington ‘under siege’ as opioid-linked homelessness soars

By Aubrey Whelan, The Inquirer

When Philadelphia’s Office of Homeless Services finalized the latest tally of Kensington’s homeless population this month, what it found was stunning: the number of people living on the drug-plagued community’s streets has more than doubled. The latest number — 703, up from 271 a year ago — caused “borderline hysteria” in the office, said its director, Liz Hersh. Read the article.

July 21, 2018

Home4Good RFP

The Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh (FHLB Pittsburgh) has announced a new funding opportunity for Homeless Service Providers throughout Pennsylvania in a collaborative effort with the Pennsylvania Housing and Finance Agency (PHFA). The $4.5 Million initiative, labeled “Home4Good”, will provide much needed funding to projects, programs, or activities that focus on the following goals:
1. Prevent homelessness: Assist households at risk for homelessness by maintaining their current housing or divert them to alternative, safe options
2. Solicit innovative solutions to end homelessness
3. Address critical needs throughout the Commonwealth: Projects, programs, or activities determined to be critically needed by the Philadelphia CoC

The highlight of this grant is that the eligible uses for the funding are very flexible. This will allow for organizations to fill gaps in assistance needs that other funding sources can’t cover. Please find all the eligible activities one can apply for in the RFP. The grant award is based on population. It is anticipated the Philadelphia CoC will be awarded between $700,00 to $1.5 Million.

To be considered for funding in Philadelphia, a homeless service organization must submit a proposal to the City of Philadelphia Office of Homeless Services, the Collaborative Applicant for the Philadelphia Continuum of Care (CoC), no later than 3pm, Philadelphia, PA, local time on Friday, August 24, 2018. Submissions will be accepted via email to

Applicants are to use the Home4Good RFP format for their submission. The Philadelphia CoC will review the project proposal submissions and rank them accordingly based on strength of the proposal and the extent to which they address needs in the community. The CoC will submit a packet of ranked proposals to PHFA and FHLB Pittsburgh for review no later than September 28th.

Home4Good Awards will be announced on December 17th.

Based on the CoC’s most recent needs assessment and understanding of system-wide needs, the following have been identified as priorities to fill housing and service gaps in Philadelphia’s homeless assistance system:
1. Assistance at various parts of the homeless assistance system to divert people from emergency shelter, the street, or places not meant for human habitation, including:

  • people facing eviction
  • people in emergency and temporary housing program who need financial support to pay rental and utility arrears or security deposits to transition to permanent housing
  • people re-entering the community from the criminal justice system
  • people with complex medical problems
  • Youth exiting child welfare care without stable housing

2. Programs to serve the unique circumstances and needs of youth experiencing homelessness
3. Coordinated Entry infrastructure to expand and support access to the Coordinate Entry system (youth access, mobile assessors, etc)
4. Rehabilitation / Renovation of affordable housing units

However, this should not limit the ideas you submit. Be creative!

For more information  please visit:
To access the Home4Good RFP, frequently asked questions and powerpoint presentation, please visit

Cover of From Homeless to Housed - OHS 2017 Annual Report

July 2018

Office of Homeless Services Annual Report
From Homeless to Housed

Our first ever Annual Report is out!

“This report is for all of our stakeholders. You are a stakeholder if the quality of our performance in the Office of Homeless Services (OHS) can make positive things happen for you, your organization, or community” – Liz Hersh, Director

You may download the 2017 Annual Report as an Acrobat PDF file or click on the heading above to view it as an e-book.

July 18, 2018

Medical respite for homeless now open in North Philly

By Aaron Moselle, WHYY

Serenity Court Calcutta House opening
Photo by Emma lee, WHYY

Ronald Lane beamed Tuesday morning as he sat on a lime green couch inside Serenity Court, the first – and only – medical respite in the city for homeless patients recovering after a stint in the hospital.

It may be hard for him to walk. His legs and feet may be tightly wrapped in gauze. It may be awhile before any of that changes. But, Lane knows it could be worse. He could be on the street or in a homeless shelter trying to care for his wounds, sustained this winter after a nasty bout of frostbite. Read the article on Serenity Court opening.

June 26, 2018

Task force wants mediation to prevent evictions in Philadelphia

Philadelphia has a game plan for cutting down on the number of people evicted from their homes or apartments. The eviction rate is high in the city, partly because only about a third of those who need subsidized housing can get into an affordable apartment or home. The goal is to pare the annual rate of 24,000 evictions. . . Read the article.

June 17, 2018

Maryann Styles and Delores Liggins are helping Philadelphia’s as temps soar into the 90s. (Credit: CBS3)
Maryann Styles and Delores Liggins are helping Philadelphia’s as temps soar into the 90s. (Credit: CBS3)

Homeless Advocates Helping Philly’s Most Vulnerable As Temps Soar Into 90s

By Greg Argos, CBS News

As summer officially gets underway on June 21, some Philadelphia residents are doing what they can to help the city’s homeless as the mercury continues to rise. City homeless outreach advocates Maryann Styles and Delores Liggins are doing what they can to help. Read the article

June 1, 2018

Deadline to Vacate

By The Philadelphia Tribune

Dump trucks. Sanitation crews. Social service providers. Storage bins. Police and emergency personnel. That was the scene at the Kensington Avenue and Tulip Street heroin encampments Wednesday. Within the span of a few hours, the inhabitants of the encampments were gone; the sidewalks cleaned and sanitized. Read the article.

June 1, 2018

Philly deserves credit for clearing out heroin encampments, offering help | Editorial

By the Inquirer Editorial Board

. . . Obviously, as society evolved and advanced, responses to crises have, too.  The city’s current response to the opioid crisis is a good example.

On Wednesday, the city cleared out two encampments in Kensington where hundreds of addicted people lived (and many died).  That cleanup was important to the  neighborhood that has been the hardest-hit during this crisis.  The city’s action isn’t just about banishing  a troubled population, but corralling people with problems to get access to housing, treatment, and other support. Read the article.

May 29, 2018

Philadelphia clears its heroin camps this week. This housing program could be a keyPathways to Housing resident

By Aubrey Whelan, The Inquirer

As the city prepares to clear out two of Kensington’s heroin encampments by its Wednesday deadline, advocates for those in addiction, neighbors, and city officials agree on one thing: The camp’s residents will need permanent homes.

Temporary space for some has been found in an expanding network of shelter beds in the neighborhood. But a housing program unlike any other in the country could provide a road map for getting to a more lasting solution.

Pathways to Housing’s housing-first program — meaning you don’t have to be sober to get a home — for people with opioid addiction has been slowly getting people off the streets of Kensington for over a year.

Mayor Kenney’s budget seeks 60 more slots in a program that other cities struggling with the dual crises of opioid addiction and homelessness are looking to for inspiration. A year into the program, 54 percent of Pathways’ 75 participants are in treatment or abstaining from drug use. Nearly everyone who entered the program has stayed. Read more . . .

May 17, 2018

With Conrail cleanup in rear view, Philly clearing new Kensington heroin camps

By Joel Wolfram, WHYY

On a recent Friday morning, a young man named John was sitting on a street corner down the block from a railroad bridge where people pitch tents along busy Kensington Avenue. He had a weary look on his face, a red gash on his forehead, and a harrowing story to tell. “Some dude in a truck hit me in my tent,” John said. Read the article.

May 12, 2018

People living in Kensington’s encampments are wary of the city’s plan to clear out their home.
“Where’s everybody going to go?”Prevention Point intake during 30 days

By Courtney Harris Bond, Billy Penn

At the end of April, the City of Philadelphia announced it was launching a new effort to clean up the encampments in Kensington where many drug users make their homes. The plan includes outreach to those affected, but many users living under the Tulip Street bridge said on a recent afternoon that they had not noticed the orange signs screwed into the sturdy posts of the El. . . .

According to the city, the effort to clear the encampments  —  first the ones on Kensington Avenue under the El and under the Tulip Street bridge  —  is the result of careful planning in conjunction with housing and treatment experts, and is intended to strengthen Philadelphia’s response to the opioid crisis.. . .

“This is a unique approach that brings a suite of services to the individuals living under the bridges,” said Liz Hersh, director of the Office of Homeless Services. “We’re giving them the opportunity to get off the street and get the help they need by addressing many of the barriers that are usually a deterrent to getting services like the lack of I.D.s, lack of transportation and guaranteeing immediate access to treatment  —  but the clock is ticking.”

Read the article.