FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PHILADELPHIA (April 29, 2019) – Last Monday, Center City District (CCD) launched an expanded version of last year’s combined, homeless outreach effort that helped more than 130 individuals come off the street and connect with needed services and shelter.
Funded and launched by the CCD and implemented in partnership with Project Home, the Philadelphia Police Department and the city’s Department of Behavioral Health, the 2018 pilot program ran from April 23 to November 16. Combined teams of social service outreach workers from Project Home, CCD’s specially trained Community Service Representatives (CSRs) and members of the Police Department’s Homeless Service Detail worked together in teams five days a week. They consistently engaged those on the sidewalks of Center City and successfully encouraged 134 people to come off the street and enter social service, mental health and housing programs. The CCD also provided transportation to facilitate the connection to service for many who had been reluctant to accept help.
The Ambassadors of Hope collaborative teams resumed their outreach work on April 22 with the number of social service workers from Project Home doubled and with one police officer assigned to each team, as opposed to two in 2018. This enables two teams simultaneously to cover the entire footprint of the Center City District daily, with one team focusing west of Broad Street and the other east of Broad from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every weekday.
On average, in 2018 the teams engaged with 40 homeless individuals and panhandlers each day. In 2019, the number of people engaged daily should double, thus increasing the likely success rate for people to come off the street. This year’s program will extend into the month of December, rather than ending in November as during the 2018 pilot phase.
Those people who do not accept service but are observed in violation of the Sidewalk Behavior Ordinance, are instructed by the police officers on the teams to move away from locations where their behavior is problematic. An average of 14 individuals per day complied with those instructions during last year’s pilot. There were no arrests or citations issued during the entire outreach effort in 2018.
The outreach team members will again meet weekly with the administrators of the program and service providers to coordinate follow-up for those who receive placement to help limit their return to the streets, and to discuss strategies for reaching those on the street who are resistant to accepting help.
“Last year’s successful launch of this innovative, collaborative effort made it clear to everyone involved that it should return in 2019,” said CCD President Paul R. Levy. “We’re grateful to our partners and to more than a dozen office buildings and hotels that contributed to the CCD to defray the costs of this intensive effort.”
Center City District, in partnership with Project Home, also developed a dual-pronged advertising campaign designed to complement and reinforce the combined outreach effort. The first set of printed and digital ads are running on 70 transit shelters in Center City, digital billboards on the Mellon Independence Center, and SEPTA transit and bus lines. In those ads, formerly homeless individuals speak directly to those still living on the street, encouraging them to accept help and services.
The second iteration of the campaign, counter cards and postcards for display inside of hotels, office buildings and retail establishments, feature photo portraits and success stories of those same people, and provide information on locations where people living or panhandling on the street can find services, meals and housing. The materials also provide the public with a list of organizations to which they can direct their charitable donations to help fund this effort. To date, more than 75 places of business are displaying the materials in their stores, offices, and residences.
April 29, 2019 | For second year, outreach teams are connecting with Philly's homelessness, The Inquirer
About Center City District
Center City District, a private-sector organization dedicated to making Center City Philadelphia clean, safe and attractive, is committed to maintaining Center City’s competitive edge as a regional employment center, a quality place to live, and a premier regional destination for dining, shopping and cultural attractions.