Shared Public Spaces

make change count
shared public spaces
Dear Shared Public Spaces Workgroup Members,
Thank you again for all your hard work and support on the vexing problems of homelessness, panhandling and poverty. Please follow this link to a draft of the notes from the All Member Meeting and if you have comments or edits please send them to Charlotte Edelstein. We will use this information to prioritize and guide our work for the next few months. We also wanted to share with you an update from the Office of Homeless Services on all the work that is underway to prevent and respond to homelessness and sidewalk behavior challenges.  Please share with your networks!


The following materials provide useful information about homelessness.

Transit Stations

Suburban Station Concourse – How to Respond Guide
Read the Guide

FAQs about Homelessness – Spotlight on Transit Stations
Read the FAQs

Need somewhere to go during the day?

Visit a Recovery Learning Center! A New Life and The Well are here to help you!
View the flyer

Services and Resources

Many sites citywide offer free meals. Some are for men only, some for seniors only. Some are wheelchair accessible. Many offer more services than just free meals.
View the Flyer

Best practices for creating safe and dignified experiences for emergency meal guests.
View the flyer

2016-2017 Panhandling Survey

The Office of the Deputy Managing Director for Health and Human Services interviewed 129 persons found panhandling from November 2016 to January 2017. Interviewees responded to questions on panhandling behavior, income and benefits, housing, and health.
The key findings are:

  • People who panhandle in Center City Philadelphia also live in Philadelphia.
  • They treat their activity like a full-time job.
  • They earn a meager wage, which they use for essentials.
  • People who panhandle would like to be employed, but face significant barriers to employment.
  • The panhandling population experiences housing instability.
  • The opioid epidemic has had an apparent effect on panhandling in Philadelphia.
  • Panhandling is an individual activity and is routinely censured by authorities.

Read the Survey Report ♦ View the Survey Presentation ♦ Read the Executive Summary

Establish Shared Public Spaces Public-Private Workgroup

Philadelphia is a City For All

We all share our public spaces – parks, plazas, streets, transit stations – and more. Lively shared spaces make the City fun and exciting, but they can also be crowded, dirty or even scary. Philly’s welcome growth has also created pressures. We need to renegotiate how we use our public spaces so we can all enjoy them safely, and ensure that all are treated with dignity and respect.

Mission – Take action to:

→ Ensure safety, respect and dignity for all in the public areas we share -parks, transit stations, plazas, streets;

→ Constructively address panhandling, chronic street homelessness and food access;

→ Expand alternatives – housing, jobs and services – accompanied by a code of conduct.


Brian Abernathy, Deputy Managing Director
Julie Coker Graham, PA Visitors and Convention Board

Four Areas For Action

    To establish clear standards for behavior in shared public spaces together with the tools and engagement to support it.
    Co-Chairs: Eva Gladstein, Managing Director’s Office and Don Haas, BOMA
    Members: Chamber of Commerce, Hotel Association, MHS-SEPA, DBHIDS, Police, Parks & Rec., CCD, WAWA, Parkway Council, Commerce, City Council, Temple U, Other Stakeholders
    To strategize and implement real solutions to chronic street homelessness
    Co-Chairs: Liz Hersh, Office of Homeless Services and John McNichol, PA Convention Center
    Members: Avenue of The Arts, Chronic Homelessness Partnership, City Council, Clergy, DBHIDS , Friends of Aviator Park, Friends of Rittenhouse Square, Metro Market, PHA, Other Stakeholders
    To improve access to indoor meals and improve dignity and safety to meals when served outdoors
    Co-Chairs: Mitch Little, CEO and Joe Pyle, Scattergood Foundation
    Members: Parkway Foundation, Broad Street Ministry, Center City District, Food Access Collaborative, City Council, Other Stakeholders
    To develop and implement messaging, public information and communications for all around shared public spaces – business, residents and visitors
    Co-Chairs: Beverly Harper, Portfolio Associates; Alicia Taylor, Managing Director’s Office
    Members: Center City District, Visit Philly, Hotel Association, Homeless Services, Avenue of the Arts, Other Stakeholders

Workgroup Documents

Shared Public Spaces Workgroup All Member Meeting
with Recommended Action Steps

August 21, 2017

Code of Conduct and Service Alternatives Subcommittee Meetings

Minutes and Materials

May 4, 2017 

April 6, 2017

March 2, 2017 

February 2, 2017

January 4, 2017

Chronic Homeless Subcommittee

Strategize and implement real solutions to chronic street homelessness.
Read the goals

Scenario lays out the problem of homelessness, the capacity and assets of the City’s current system and a selection of high impact strategies for addressing the problem.
Read Our Vision for Philadelphia 

Agenda and Materials Meeting
January 26, 2017