It will be another few months of battling the elements for Philadelphia’s homeless. Meanwhile, with the city halfway through a 10-year plan to end homelessness, efforts continue to help some of Philadelphia’s most vulnerable citizens.
Marsha Cohen is the Executive Director of the Homeless Advocacy Project, an organization providing free legal services to the homeless in Philadelphia.
“The city, like many cities in the country, was very strongly encouraged to adopt a 10-year plan in order to be eligible for federal funding,” Cohen said. The Homeless Advocacy Project provides free legal services to the homeless in Philadelphia.
“And I think, in the end, we created a very thoughtful and good blueprint for moving forward,” she said.
But Cohen said the promise evident at the start of the 10-year effort hasn’t been fulfilled.
“We were going to create uniform standards and enforce them across our entire shelter system; everybody who entered the system was going to get uniform documents; and shelter conditions were supposed to be uniform,” she said. “There was supposed to be a way for people to complain in a consistent fashion and then have an appeal in a consistent fashion. And, from our perspective, none of that has happened.”
Laura Weinbaum, the director of public policy for Project HOME, said there has been some progress—in the form of new housing opportunities.
“The city and the providers with whom it works have created nearly 4,000 total new units in those five years,” Weinbaum said. “So on that piece of it, I think, we’ve really made some great strides. Our goal was 10,000 units, we’ve made 4,000 in five years—that’s not too bad.”
As for the future, Weinbaum said, “We now, I think, are at a really good point to evaluate what we do differently in these next five years.”
She said the weak economy has exacerbated the problem by pushing more people on the edge of poverty into the homeless population.