On Monday city officials presented a plan that will seek to help the homeless in Center City. The outreach measure is a response to a “growing presence of street homelessness at four high volume areas of Center City.”
The plan will place uniformed outreach teams in the areas that have been identified by the Office of Supportive Housing (OSH) as “hot spots.” The idea is to engage and assess the individuals and families living in the streets.
“Today, we are making a commitment to conduct proactive and targeted homeless outreach engagements three times a day at optimal time frames,” said Mayor Jim Kenney in a press release. “This will enable us to assist a greater number of our homeless citizens in meeting their basic survival needs while addressing the valid concerns of local businesses, commuters, advocates and all who share the streets of Center City.”
Teams will be on foot in these areas seven days a week from 6:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Options will be presented to any homeless individual or family for transitioning into housing and getting them access to the medical, mental health or addiction treatment help they might need.
“It’s about assisting them with meeting their needs for basic survival and providing them with general support as they begin the process of charting a course for recovering their lives and we need all of our partners to help us make this happen,” said Liz Hersh, director of the Office of Supportive Housing.
The plan also takes into account talking to local businesses to gather feedback in the areas where the teams will operate. The effort is already in action as a pilot program that will continue into the Spring and Summer.
Outreach teams —consisting of social workers, mental health counselors, addiction specialists and men and women who were once homeless — will be deployed to the following zones in four teams of three:
Center City’s Rittenhouse Square area (15th Street to 21st Street and Market to Locust streets)
Avenue of the Arts area (Market to Pine streets and 10th Street to Broad Street)
Convention Center area (Vine to Market streets and 10th Street to 15th Street)
Independence Hall area (Race to Locust streets and 4thStreet to 10th Street)
According to Project HOME, a local non-profit that fights homelessness in the region, the number of homeless individuals has grown in the Center City area. Their latest numbers show that area went from 308 individuals to 445 between 2014 and 2015.