Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Helping the Homeless in Philadelphia

As Sacramento struggles to shape an effective method of helping the homeless—and I define helping as helping people to help themselves rather than the method Sacramento’s largest homeless service providers have adopted of providing non means tested domestic services which tend to continue the cycle of homelessness rather than break it.

A program in Philadelphia, Project H.O.M.E. has taken the mantra of helping people to help themselves and done wonders in reducing homelessness in the city—cutting it in half according to the Philadelphia-based blog Whispers in the Loggia writing about the organization’s founders winning a prestigious award from the University of Notre Dame.

An excerpt from the blog.

“Keeping its 130-year tradition on this Fourth Sunday of Lent, the University of Notre Dame announced this morning that the co-founders of the River City’s pioneering Project H.O.M.E. -- Religious Sister of Mercy Mary Scullion and Joan Dawson McConnon -- are 2011’s joint recipients of American Catholicism’s most prestigious and venerable award, the Laetare Medal.

“Founded in 1989, Project H.O.M.E. (“Housing. Opportunities for Employment. Medical Care. Education.”) has been credited with cutting Philadelphia’s homeless population in half.”

Here is an excerpt from the Project H.O.M.E. website.

“The mission of the Project H.O.M.E. community is to empower adults, children, and families to break the cycle of homelessness and poverty, to alleviate the underlying causes of poverty, and to enable all of us to attain our fullest potential as individuals and as members of the broader society. We strive to create a safe and respectful environment where we support each other in our struggles for self-esteem, recovery, and the confidence to move toward self-actualization.

“Project H.O.M.E. achieves its mission through a continuum of care comprised of street outreach, a range of supportive housing, and comprehensive services. We address the root causes of homelessness through neighborhood-based affordable housing, economic development, and environmental enhancement programs, as well as through providing access to employment opportunities; adult and youth education; and health care.

“Project H.O.M.E. is committed to social and political advocacy. An integral part of our work is education about the realities of homelessness and poverty and vigorous advocacy on behalf of and with homeless and low-income persons for more just and humane public policies.

“Project H.O.M.E. is committed to nurturing a spirit of community among persons from all walks of life, all of whom have a role to play in making this a more just and compassionate society.”