What is the City doing about homelessness?

Together with our many nonprofit partners, the City has developed an extensive system of emergency, temporary and permanent housing. In fact, the permanent housing programs have an 85-97% success rate in preventing a return to homelessness. Even with these efforts, our supply of affordable housing is not able to keep pace with the demand. Last year we were able to help over 1,200 families and individuals move “from-homeless-to-housed.” This year we established the Shared Public Spaces Workgroup—a public-private effort to bring business, civic and hospitality leaders to the table to help address the problem.

Efforts to Combat Homelessness

What is the City doing to specifically address the situation in the Concourse?

  • Doubled outreach for the winter
  • Streamlined intake to give people quicker access to shelter and respite beds
  • Opened additional daytime services
  • Provide mental health and drug treatment screenings and referrals
  • Added specialized youth outreach
  • Engaged Philly Police Department around narcotics enforcement
  • Added Homeless Services staff to assist during peak travel hours

What’s the Hub of Hope?

The Hub is run each winter by Project HOME and provides a range of physical and behavioral health services to people who are experiencing homelessness. It is very effective at connecting people with services and housing.

What does Homeless Outreach do?

Outreach engages street homeless individuals on a daily basis to offer hope, resources and opportunities, such as emergency shelter, treatment options for mental health and substance use disorders, medical services, etc. It focuses on developing trusting relationships with individuals on the street, through ongoing rapport and consistency, that assist individuals in addressing barriers to coming inside.

Outreach can:

  • Offer housing options for those who are interested
  • Transport those who are interested to housing, medical, psychiatric, or other resources
  • Call in a 302 (involuntary psychiatric hospitalization) in situations that warrant such action
  • Never give up on an individual and continue to engage them until they are ready and willing to get off the street and connected to necessary supports and services

Outreach cannot:

  • Physically move people
  • Move people’s belongings or clean up any trash they may have left behind
  • Address illegal behavior (this is a matter for the police)

The Homeless Outreach Hotline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Call 215- 232-1984.

How You Can Help

What should I do if I see someone in immediate danger to themselves or others?

Call 911 and ask for the Crisis Intervention Team (C.I.T.) Officer.

What if someone seems to be mentally ill, like not being dressed for the weather, talking to him or herself?

You should feel free to talk with people who are experiencing homelessness. They appreciate human contact and connection. We suggest “Where to Turn” if you want to connect someone to help. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, please call Outreach at 215 232 1984.

What should I do if I see someone urinating or defecating in public?

This is illegal. If on SEPTA property, in stations and Concourses, call 215.580.8111. Anywhere else, dial City Police at 911.

What should I do if someone asks me for money?

Panhandling is not illegal. It is considered free speech, so the police do not arrest people for panhandling. The desire to give money to someone in need is kind and generous, but it can also be counterproductive. Panhandling is often linked to addiction. If you want to help, we recommend buying One Step Away, or making a donation to your favorite nonprofit.

What should I do if I feel unsafe?

Trust your gut. Move away and call 911 or get someone to escort you where you need to go.

What about if I see a drug deal happening? Who should I call?

Call 911.

What if I see people smoking crack or pot or K2? What should I do?

Move away quickly and call 911.

What if someone is smoking a cigarette?

SEPTA enforces the smoking ban. Please call 215.580.8111

Is there anything my religious institution or I can do to help?

Certainly. Churches, synagogues, mosques and other organizations can sponsor fundraising to assist the front line agencies that are always in need of resources to assist others experiencing homelessness. Assistance of this type is best coordinated through the Office of Homeless Services.