People who are homeless in Philadelphia will soon have a place to go in Philadelphia’s Suburban Station.
“Hub for Hope,” Project Home’s drop-in homeless center in Suburban Station is expected to open next week in its old storefront near the 15th Street entrance. For the last few winters, Project Home has set up Hub of Hope in the space as a walk-in services center.
On any given day, busker and violinist Carlye Cute watches dozens of people take refuge in Suburban Station.
“I see a lot of people get kicked out, and it’s not fair because it’s the only warm place around here,” she said.
For 44-year-old Robert Watts, being homeless the last few months has meant playing a sort of cat-and-mouse game, moving between stations.
“In the winter, it’s been practically a struggle being down here in the subway stations,” he said. “The transit police at a certain time, they want to put you out.
Robert Watts, who has been homeless for several months, moves between stations to stay out of the cold. (Elana Gordon/WHYY)
A citywide count in November found that 100 people, or a third of Center City’s homeless, sleep in Suburban Station.
Coordinator Karen Orrick said Hub of Hope has been able to connect thousands of people like Watts with housing support, medical care and other social services.
“It’s a really beautiful and elegant program,” said Orrick. A big value, she said, is it’s situated in the middle of where many of the city’s chronically homeless pass through but might not otherwise connect with services. “I think I’ve realized that more and more as we’ve been not sure if we’ve been able to have it this year.”
Normally, Hub of Hope would be open by now, but the doors have been locked.
In November, Project Home learned the donated space, an old beauty parlor, wouldn’t be available, and the organization hasn’t been able to find another spot.
Earlier this week, property owner ASI Management contacted the group, saying it could move back in.
“The ownership had a change of heart!” said Orrick. “I’m just extremely pleased and grateful.”
ASI’s operations manager, Mark Tanney, didn’t give an explanation for the decision, but said “we’re happy to have them back.”
He’s currently cleaning out the space and said it will be ready next week.
A few hundred feet from the storefront, Orrick shared the news with people, including Watts, who were sitting on benches in the busy concourse.
“My reaction? Magnificent!” Watts said. “I’m hoping to find resources, people that can steer me in the right direction to find shelter, housing benefits and stuff that can help me out, so I can live longer and have a healthy life.”
More immediately, he’s looking forward to getting a warm cup of coffee there.
Project Home’s 24-Hour Homeless Outreach Hotline is 215-232-1984.