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Response from the Office of Homeless Services

posted Aug 30, 2020, 7:12 AM by David Cardy   [ updated Aug 30, 2020, 6:18 PM ]



I've heard from many of you over the past months about the two “Housing Now” protest camps – JDT and Camp Teddy. We've been relatively quiet to honor the negotiation process with camp organizers, leaders, and residents. We've also met with neighbors in the area to hear their concerns. Dave Holloman and I have represented the Office of Homeless Services (OHS). The Mayor, Managing Director’s Office, and Councilmembers have all been involved. PHA leadership has joined us as well.

Frankly, we agree with their goal: housing ends homelessness. If we had more housing that people could afford, we wouldn’t have homelessness. Dave and I are in these jobs exactly because we want to end homelessness. That is our mission.

Given the judge’s order this week and the court debate that has divided like-minded people, we decided to share more about how the City has responded.

  1. Adding 900-1,400 new long-term housing units over the next 12-24 months, mostly using federal CARES ESG funds
  2. Piloting a Tiny House Village; expanding SROs, Shallow Rent, and Shared Housing programs
  3. Committing that no one who is in the COVID Prevention (hotel) Spaces will be returned to homelessness

PHA is making 62 vacant properties available to nonprofits for acquisition for people who are unhoused and/or have extremely low incomes. They have agreed to work with those who have occupied vacant PHA houses on permanent housing solutions and to reform their police force.

Click here to see the complete list of actions the City and PHA are taking.

OHS’s new investments in long-term housing are on top of $4.5M for homelessness prevention to help people safely avoid entering shelter, especially as the economic impact of COVID continues.

They maintain the City’s crisis homeless system at current capacity, a system that has proven itself to be more than capable of keeping people safe through the pandemic. Since March, we've sheltered over 6,500 people, provided 21,000 bed-nights, and served a whopping 879,000 meals. And there have been only 120 positive participant cases.

The network of nonprofit homeless service providers are unsung heroes who work tirelessly. They've continued to focus not just on caring for people in crisis, but on long-term housing solutions. That is how together, since March, we've provided long-term housing to over 5,600 people and enabled 558 people to move into permanent housing.

On the ground, our teams have engaged people at the protest camps who want to connect with them. As a result, over 100 people have chosen to come in, making the first step toward long-term housing. And we have not abandoned the other people on the streets throughout the City.

The protests have brought new attention to the magnitude of the suffering endured primarily by black and brown people and have moved the City forward. We are committed to working together with homeless people and their many advocates and supporters for laws, policies, and budgets that will make ending homelessness a reality.


Elizabeth G. Hersh
Director, Office of Homeless Services
City of Philadelphia