Strategies to reduce the number of homeless living on downtown streets, while providing compassionate outreach, links to appropriate services and job opportunities.
To address the significant increase in panhandling and homelessness on Center City sidewalks, the CCD funds and deploys innovative outreach teams, Ambassadors of Hope, in a unique partnership with Project HOME and the Philadelphia Police with strong support from the City’s Department of Behavioral Health.
On Monday, June 22, 2020, Center City District (CCD), in partnership with Project Home, the Philadelphia Police Department and the city’s Department of Behavioral Health, resumed the CCD funded Ambassadors of Hope combined outreach program. The program is based on the assumption that complex social problems require an interdisciplinary approach.
Two teams consisting of Project Home outreach workers, a Philadelphia Police Officer from the Central Service Detail, a CSR Homeless Outreach Team member along with a CSR manager with a vehicle available to both teams are covering the entire footprint of the Center City District, Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 3:30 pm. One team patrols the west of Broad St. while the other, the east side, with daily emphasis on recurring gathering locations and engaging with well-known, chronically homeless individuals. The social service and outreach workers initiate each discussion.
Protocols in accordance with CDC and Health Department guidelines have been implemented to ensure the health and safety of the team members and the individuals with whom they engage to guard against the possible spread of the Coronavirus. These measures include the wearing of personal protective equipment (PPE), frequent use of sanitizers, installation of a barrier shield in the transporting vehicle, on street temperature scans and symptom surveys of those accepting services and preparation of all necessary forms on the street rather than at an indoor intake center. The team members also have the ability to provide safe, supervised quarantine sites for those requesting services, when symptomatic or if they have been exposed to Covid positive individuals.
Last year, the 35-week program started on Monday, April 22, 2019 and concluded on Friday, December 13, 2019. Through frequent engagement by the trained joint outreach teams, numerous homeless clients accepted services and were transported to service providers geared towards their individual needs. A number of those accepting services were known chronic homeless individuals who have resisted service and placement in the past. Those who did not accepted services, but who were observed in violation of the Sidewalk Behavior Ordinance, were instructed by the police officers on the team to cease the behavior and all complied with no citations or code violation notices having been issued.
During the 162 days of the initiative, 185 individuals accepted services offered by the joint outreach teams and were physically transported from the street to a site appropriate for their needs; 6 individuals received placement/treatment through the 302-commitment process (involuntary) for 191 individuals receiving placements. The teams also contacted EMS for emergency service and transportation to area E.Rs for 11 individuals they encountered who were in need of immediate medical treatment. The CCD provided transportation for 149 of the 191, or 78% of the individuals connected to services.
This year’s program is scheduled to continue for 26 weeks until December 11.
During the cold weather months, the Ambassadors of Hope outreach effort will continue on a scaled-down basis, as the City increases its winter outreach.
More than a dozen major office buildings and hotels made significant contributions to support the launch of this effort in 2018. If you need assistance from our team, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To expand the impact of the Combined Outreach Program, Project HOME and the Center City District unveiled a new information campaign on December 18, 2018, highlighting five Philadelphians previously living on the streets who chose a path out of homelessness and now seek to inspire others to do the same.
Fifty digital ads and 20 printed posters, pictured below, are appearing in transit shelters throughout Center City and feature photo portraits and success stories of five formerly homeless people – Alfonso, David, Katie, LaToya, and Nasir – speaking to others still living on the street: “Your Story Doesn’t End Here. I Know Because Mine Didn’t.” The posters also provide information about several Center City locations where those in need can get meals, services and access to housing.
“Today more than ever we need to continue the fight to end and prevent street homelessness in Philadelphia. Countless women and men have taken that first step that has led them home. We are redoubling our efforts to engage those who are living on the streets in Philly to end street homelessness,” Project HOME Executive Director Sister Mary Scullion said.
Additionally, counter postcards are available for display by retailers, restaurants, hotels, residential buildings and offices in Center City. These counter cards feature the same five individuals telling members of the public how they can best help and offer information cards that can be handed to people living on the street. The cards communicate where food, services and shelter can be found and provide information about how the public can direct their charitable donations to organizations that are making real change, helping individuals find a way home. You can download those information cards to the right for distribution to those in need on the street or to order counter cards, contact Joann Loviglio at email@example.com.