New Project Home opens on Valentine’s Day, providing ‘a beautiful home’ to women who are unhoused and disabled in Philly

The Tudor-style manor opened on Valentine’s Day and will be home to 25 disabled women who experienced homelessness.

The entrance to Joyce's Place

Joyce's Place, located at 4849 Parkside Avenue, was once a retirement home for actors. It was converted by Project HOME into a permanent residence for up to 25 women. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

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With a snip of oversized red scissors, Project HOME’s latest residence opened on Valentine’s Day.

The Tudor-style home is nestled along a leafy two-way street on Parkside Avenue that faces Fairmount Park. It will house 25 women who experienced homelessness and who have a disability.

Ribbon cutting ceremony
Lauren Moran Kleinz (center) cuts the ribbon to officially open Joyce’s Place, named for her mother, Joyce Moran, who died in 2009. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

It opened on the holiday of love in honor of the life of its namesake, Joyce Moran. Her daughter Lauren Moran Kleinz said the day embodies who her mom was.

“It’s a universal day of love, and I think as my mom would say, ‘The greatest way of showing love is taking care of others and doing for others,’” Moran Kleinz said.

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Joyce Moran was a former volunteer with Women of Change at Project HOME and died in 2009 after a years-long battle with ovarian cancer. Family friends, the Keatings, partnered with Project HOME to open the space and gave a “generous donation,” said Sister Mary Scullion, Project HOME co-founder.

“We were blessed by Joyce’s life and now in her death,” Sister Scullion said.

close-up of a marker above the door
A marker above the entrance to Joyce’s Place reveals that it was once a retirement home for actors. It was converted by Project HOME into a permanent residence for up to 25 women. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

But it took a lot of work to rehab the 14,000-square-foot home. With the combination of the Keatings’ donation and the William Penn Foundation’s $878,000 grant, Project HOME staff were able to fix it up.

The chateau is listed on the Historical Society of Pennsylvania records, as it once housed retired actors. Over the years, it became an assisted living center before becoming Project HOME’s newest residence.

Sister Mary Scullion celebrates the grand opening of Joyce’s Place in Philadelphia’s Parkside neighborhood, which will provide a permanent residence for 25 women. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Sister Scullion said the move from its previous location on 20th and Arch Streets helps support people coming off the street better. The majority of residents will have their own room.

“When you come in off the street, such a traumatic experience, that having your own room, it really helps a lot in the healing process,” she said.

Kelli James sitting at a table
Resident Kelli James sits at a table in the dining room at Joyce’s Place, which will provide permanent homes for up to 25 women. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Resident Kelli James agreed. She used to live in the dorm-style Women of Change home and just moved into her room this week. Walking in, she recollected what she thought about the property.

“Unbelievable,” James said. “To have a room with a door? Just a dream come true.”

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A view inside a private room
Joyce’s Place replaces dormitory living with private rooms for participants in the Women of Change Program of Project HOME. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

James has found a way to treat her depression through various programs and said this is the next step to one day hosting her grandchildren.

Cheryl Hill, Project HOME’s vice president of supportive housing operations, said a lot of thought went into rehabbing the space while staying true to its architecture.

She pointed to the orange-painted archways in the entry and some of the mint-green doors still displaying the names of previous residents. Hill said the opening of this space is also vital for Project HOME’s history.

A look down a long hallway inside the residence
Joyce’s Place is Project HOME’s newest residence, which will serve as a low-barrier safe haven space for 25 women (trans-inclusive) experiencing homelessness who have mental illness, substance use disorder, and/or other physical disabilities. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Women of Change was one of the organization’s first projects 30 years ago. With its new location, staff can build on its mission to give women the mental and behavioral health support, case management and education counseling they need to find sure footing once they are ready for independent living.

The Fairmount Park setting is not just for aesthetics, Hill said, but is an environment that can improve the health of its residents.

“Sometimes it’s misunderstood that if someone may be experiencing homelessness that you can just put them anywhere, and they should be happy. That is not true,” Hill said. “Everybody deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, and I think that’s what Joyce’s Place will do for the women here.”

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