Posts

Nothing Found

Sorry, no posts matched your criteria

News

Homeless Safety a Heightened Issue During Summer Months

By David T. Jones
Acting Commissioner,
DBHIDS

Summer is here –- at last -– and for many people, thoughts turn to fun family getaways, sitting out by the pool or on the beach and sweet treats like ice cream or water ice to cool us down. But for people who are living on the street, these options of summer escapes aren’t so readily accessible.

Hundreds of people experience periods of street homelessness in Philadelphia, using street corners, transit hubs and parks as shelter. Heavily-traveled areas, particularly in and around Center City, reveal the faces of this sad reality. And while being homeless can be devastating enough for an individual, the problem is only compounded for those who are also living with an untreated mental illness, addiction, or both.

The dangers of living on the street are plentiful and troubling, and each season of the year presents a unique set of challenges that heighten public concern for the safety and welfare of the homeless. Rising temperatures and high levels of humidity pose a threat to the homeless during the summer months when consecutive days of excessively hot weather can cause city officials to declare a Code Red emergency.

Even in the absence of a Code Red, individuals experiencing street homelessness during the summer are exposed to the risk of potentially dangerous health problems due to the elements, including:

  • Hyperthermia caused by too many layers. Often those who have behavioral health or substance use issues wear too many clothes, even during warm-weather months
  • Sunburn and photosensitivity caused by too much exposure to the sun
  • Lyme disease and other conditions caused by insect bites
  • Difficulty breathing due to poor air-quality, triggering asthma and other conditions

The Office of Homeless Services, in collaboration with DBHIDS and dozens of provider agencies, does a commendable job year-round to support individuals who are chronically homeless, getting them into shelters, transitioning them into housing, and directing those struggling with addiction to treatment while also connecting them with other resources for the homeless.

Day in, day out, our Homeless Outreach workers are deployed to assigned zones where humane and personalized outreach and support are their top priorities. Our team of dedicated and compassionate professionals strives to build relationships with those who are experiencing chronic street homelessness, helping them overcome their obstacles and reluctance to coming off the street, getting them into shelters and safe havens, and directing those struggling with substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health challenges to treatment, such as the Journey of Hope Project, or connecting them with other homeless resources. Essentially, our homeless outreach staff acts as a bridge to a life beyond homelessness.

If you are concerned about how the weather may impact individuals who are living on the street and displaying behavioral health challenges, you can help by doing the following:

  • Call the 24/7 Homeless Outreach hotline at 215-232-1984 to report a sighting
  • As an alternative to money, offer cool bottled water
  • In an emergency call 911 if an individual appears to be in danger

The issue of homelessness wasn’t created overnight and neither will the solution, but we are committed to doing all we can to ensure that homeless individuals with behavioral health challenges have access to the services along with the supported housing they deserve.

Porch Light Program Launches New Kensington Site

Ribbon cutting at Porch Light Project Kensington KickoffIt was an afternoon of food, fun and fellowship as we cut the ribbon to our Kensington Storefront site, a new hub where people throughout Kensington can gather to learn about behavioral health resources, participate in community programming, and develop a love for public art.

Dozens gathered on Saturday, March 25, for the kickoff of our newest Porch Light site at 2774 Kensington Ave. The Porch Light Program is an ongoing program in which we partner with Mural Arts Philadelphia to promote public health by creating murals that transform Philadelphia neighborhoods, enhancing recovery and resilience among individuals facing behavioral health challenges. Through this innovative program, we collaborate with other organizations to build a team of artists, service providers, community members and city-wide stakeholders to initiate transformative public art projects.

“We believe that art ignites change, that it has a particular power,” Mural Arts Executive Director Jane Golden said to attendees, emphasizing how the Porch Light program can be an effective weapon in the fight against substance use. “And we’re proud to work with our partners to use art to overcome stigma and focus on overall behavioral health wellness.”

In addition to Golden, guests heard from several city leaders, including our own Deputy Commissioner Roland Lamb, City of Philadelphia Managing Director Michael DiBerardinis, and Philadelphia City Councilwoman Maria D. Quiñones-Sánchez (7th District).

Lamb echoed Golden’s remarks, stressing that collaboration is crucial to delivering the resources people need to improve their quality of life.

“Solutions for the problems we have are right here in the community. We want to make sure we have focused interventions here, but most importantly, we want to make sure we have people in the communities who are champions,” Lamb said, acknowledging Impact Services, Prevention Point Philadelphia, and New Kensington Community Development Corp., all Kensington-based groups partnering with DBHIDS and Mural Arts to offer support for those affected by trauma caused by substance abuse, homelessness, and crime.

Added Lamb, “We are looking to build high-level collaborations and partnerships like the ones we have today to continue to build supports that people need to have in their communities.”

Our first Porch Light hub in South Philadelphia has generated positive change in regards to the public health of the residents in the communities served by the program. A 2015 Yale School of Medicine study found that after almost two years, residents living within one mile of the mural created there experienced an increase in neighborhood “collective efficacy,” pride over improved community aesthetics and a decrease in feelings of stigma towards mental health and substance use. To date, 60-70 people utilize that site each day and expectations are for similar participation in Kensington, Golden said.

Managing Director Michael DiBerardinis lauded the Kensington Storefront partners for their willingness to come together to create opportunities for those in greatest need.

“This hub space can be a window to the soul of the community,” DiBerardinis said. “Out of that grows ideas, faith, hope, courage, and progress. We want to build hope here. We want to build opportunity here.”

New Homeless Outreach Strategy to Be Discussed at Press Conference

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney has announced plans to discuss a new homeless outreach strategy in Center City with the leaders of the Office of Supportive Housing and DBHIDS.

WHO

Mayor Jim Kenney
Liz Hersh
, Director of the Office of Supportive Housing
Dr. Arthur C. Evans, Jr., Commissioner, DBHIDS
Stephanie B. Thomas, Project Manager, The Food and Shops at Suburban Station Concourse, Metro Market Management, LLC
Kelvin Jeremiah, President and CEO, Philadelphia Housing Authority
Jannie Blackwell, Member, Philadelphia City Council

WHEN

May 16, 2016 at 10:30 a.m.

LOCATION

Mayor’s Reception Room, City Hall

WHAT

Mayor Kenney and city officials will announce a new homeless outreach strategy for Center City in response to an increased presence of street homelessness at four high volume Center City locations identified as hotspots.

Immediately following the press conference, the Office of Supportive Housing will deploy six uniformed street outreach teams to each hotspot location to transition the individuals and families they find living on the street into housing, addiction treatment, mental health counseling, and other social services.

Members of the media are invited to go out with the city’s street outreach teams as they are deployed to hotspots.

This event is not open to the public.

For media inquiries, please contact DBHIDS media consultant, Joel Avery, at 215-917-1618.

Cross System Collaboration

Cross System Collaboration

Homeless Outreach

Homeless Outreach

Transitions, Integration and Partnerships (TIP)

Transitions, Integration and Partnerships (TIP)

Pages

Homeless Safety a Heightened Issue During Summer Months

By David T. Jones
Acting Commissioner,
DBHIDS

Summer is here –- at last -– and for many people, thoughts turn to fun family getaways, sitting out by the pool or on the beach and sweet treats like ice cream or water ice to cool us down. But for people who are living on the street, these options of summer escapes aren’t so readily accessible.

Hundreds of people experience periods of street homelessness in Philadelphia, using street corners, transit hubs and parks as shelter. Heavily-traveled areas, particularly in and around Center City, reveal the faces of this sad reality. And while being homeless can be devastating enough for an individual, the problem is only compounded for those who are also living with an untreated mental illness, addiction, or both.

The dangers of living on the street are plentiful and troubling, and each season of the year presents a unique set of challenges that heighten public concern for the safety and welfare of the homeless. Rising temperatures and high levels of humidity pose a threat to the homeless during the summer months when consecutive days of excessively hot weather can cause city officials to declare a Code Red emergency.

Even in the absence of a Code Red, individuals experiencing street homelessness during the summer are exposed to the risk of potentially dangerous health problems due to the elements, including:

  • Hyperthermia caused by too many layers. Often those who have behavioral health or substance use issues wear too many clothes, even during warm-weather months
  • Sunburn and photosensitivity caused by too much exposure to the sun
  • Lyme disease and other conditions caused by insect bites
  • Difficulty breathing due to poor air-quality, triggering asthma and other conditions

The Office of Homeless Services, in collaboration with DBHIDS and dozens of provider agencies, does a commendable job year-round to support individuals who are chronically homeless, getting them into shelters, transitioning them into housing, and directing those struggling with addiction to treatment while also connecting them with other resources for the homeless.

Day in, day out, our Homeless Outreach workers are deployed to assigned zones where humane and personalized outreach and support are their top priorities. Our team of dedicated and compassionate professionals strives to build relationships with those who are experiencing chronic street homelessness, helping them overcome their obstacles and reluctance to coming off the street, getting them into shelters and safe havens, and directing those struggling with substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health challenges to treatment, such as the Journey of Hope Project, or connecting them with other homeless resources. Essentially, our homeless outreach staff acts as a bridge to a life beyond homelessness.

If you are concerned about how the weather may impact individuals who are living on the street and displaying behavioral health challenges, you can help by doing the following:

  • Call the 24/7 Homeless Outreach hotline at 215-232-1984 to report a sighting
  • As an alternative to money, offer cool bottled water
  • In an emergency call 911 if an individual appears to be in danger

The issue of homelessness wasn’t created overnight and neither will the solution, but we are committed to doing all we can to ensure that homeless individuals with behavioral health challenges have access to the services along with the supported housing they deserve.

Porch Light Program Launches New Kensington Site

Ribbon cutting at Porch Light Project Kensington KickoffIt was an afternoon of food, fun and fellowship as we cut the ribbon to our Kensington Storefront site, a new hub where people throughout Kensington can gather to learn about behavioral health resources, participate in community programming, and develop a love for public art.

Dozens gathered on Saturday, March 25, for the kickoff of our newest Porch Light site at 2774 Kensington Ave. The Porch Light Program is an ongoing program in which we partner with Mural Arts Philadelphia to promote public health by creating murals that transform Philadelphia neighborhoods, enhancing recovery and resilience among individuals facing behavioral health challenges. Through this innovative program, we collaborate with other organizations to build a team of artists, service providers, community members and city-wide stakeholders to initiate transformative public art projects.

“We believe that art ignites change, that it has a particular power,” Mural Arts Executive Director Jane Golden said to attendees, emphasizing how the Porch Light program can be an effective weapon in the fight against substance use. “And we’re proud to work with our partners to use art to overcome stigma and focus on overall behavioral health wellness.”

In addition to Golden, guests heard from several city leaders, including our own Deputy Commissioner Roland Lamb, City of Philadelphia Managing Director Michael DiBerardinis, and Philadelphia City Councilwoman Maria D. Quiñones-Sánchez (7th District).

Lamb echoed Golden’s remarks, stressing that collaboration is crucial to delivering the resources people need to improve their quality of life.

“Solutions for the problems we have are right here in the community. We want to make sure we have focused interventions here, but most importantly, we want to make sure we have people in the communities who are champions,” Lamb said, acknowledging Impact Services, Prevention Point Philadelphia, and New Kensington Community Development Corp., all Kensington-based groups partnering with DBHIDS and Mural Arts to offer support for those affected by trauma caused by substance abuse, homelessness, and crime.

Added Lamb, “We are looking to build high-level collaborations and partnerships like the ones we have today to continue to build supports that people need to have in their communities.”

Our first Porch Light hub in South Philadelphia has generated positive change in regards to the public health of the residents in the communities served by the program. A 2015 Yale School of Medicine study found that after almost two years, residents living within one mile of the mural created there experienced an increase in neighborhood “collective efficacy,” pride over improved community aesthetics and a decrease in feelings of stigma towards mental health and substance use. To date, 60-70 people utilize that site each day and expectations are for similar participation in Kensington, Golden said.

Managing Director Michael DiBerardinis lauded the Kensington Storefront partners for their willingness to come together to create opportunities for those in greatest need.

“This hub space can be a window to the soul of the community,” DiBerardinis said. “Out of that grows ideas, faith, hope, courage, and progress. We want to build hope here. We want to build opportunity here.”

New Homeless Outreach Strategy to Be Discussed at Press Conference

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney has announced plans to discuss a new homeless outreach strategy in Center City with the leaders of the Office of Supportive Housing and DBHIDS.

WHO

Mayor Jim Kenney
Liz Hersh
, Director of the Office of Supportive Housing
Dr. Arthur C. Evans, Jr., Commissioner, DBHIDS
Stephanie B. Thomas, Project Manager, The Food and Shops at Suburban Station Concourse, Metro Market Management, LLC
Kelvin Jeremiah, President and CEO, Philadelphia Housing Authority
Jannie Blackwell, Member, Philadelphia City Council

WHEN

May 16, 2016 at 10:30 a.m.

LOCATION

Mayor’s Reception Room, City Hall

WHAT

Mayor Kenney and city officials will announce a new homeless outreach strategy for Center City in response to an increased presence of street homelessness at four high volume Center City locations identified as hotspots.

Immediately following the press conference, the Office of Supportive Housing will deploy six uniformed street outreach teams to each hotspot location to transition the individuals and families they find living on the street into housing, addiction treatment, mental health counseling, and other social services.

Members of the media are invited to go out with the city’s street outreach teams as they are deployed to hotspots.

This event is not open to the public.

For media inquiries, please contact DBHIDS media consultant, Joel Avery, at 215-917-1618.

Cross System Collaboration

Cross System Collaboration

Homeless Outreach

Homeless Outreach

Transitions, Integration and Partnerships (TIP)

Transitions, Integration and Partnerships (TIP)