Philadelphia Housing First Works

The Philadelphia Inquirer published a major report today on the Housing First initiative in the City of Philadelphia. The article entitled “The new mandate: First, find them a home” of a three part series on homelessness. The article highlights the success of the initiative and how and why it was developed. the article also has links with photos and other detailed analysis of homelessness in Philadelphia. To read the full article and to access the links click here.

This is a highlight of part of the article.

In 2006, Philadelphia lost 40 percent of its HUD funding for homeless programs because its bid – made collectively for all social-service agencies – sought too much for services and not enough for permanent housing for the chronically homeless.

In December 2007, the city regained its funding after every homeless agency cut its budget for services by 25 percent. Reflecting the new national focus, the project that got the most federal funding was a planned facility for permanently housing 79 homeless inebriates or addicts living on the streets of Center City.

This new approach, known as “Housing First,” is designed to quickly get people into their own homes – not shelters – and then to connect them with services depending on their needs.

Harmon, for instance, was placed in her own apartment without any requirement that she first be clean and sober. Horizon House, a Quaker-affiliated nonprofit that works with the mentally ill, subsidizes her rent and provides her with mental health services, counseling, and a caseworker.

McKnight needed only a one-time housing grant to help keep her out of a shelter.

Phyllis Ryan, executive director of the Philadelphia Committee to End Homelessness, which runs the SafeHome program that assisted McKnight, said homeless people are languishing for too long in shelters.

“The current system treats everyone like they need to be fixed,” Ryan said. “People are in a housing crisis. Instead of going into shelters, they need to go into their own place and then be offered – but not required to use – services to build stability.”

To read the full article and to access the links click here.