Homeless Safety a Heightened Issue During Summer Months

By David T. Jones
Acting Commissioner,

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.

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Homeless Outreach

Homeless Outreach

Cross-System Collaboration

Cross-System Collaboration

Housing and Homeless Services

Housing and Homeless Services


Volunteers Needed for 2018 Philadelphia Homeless Count

Every year Philadelphia, with the support of hundreds of volunteers, conducts a Point-in-Time Count of all persons experiencing homelessness on the streets, in a shelter, and in other temporary housing.

The purpose of the count is to estimate the size of the populations in need of housing and supportive services. The Point-in-Time (PIT) Count is planned and executed by the Office of Homeless Services, DBHIDS, Project HOME, Valley Youth House, and the Veterans Administration Medical Center.

The results of the count are reported to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and are vital to supporting Philadelphia’s efforts to eradicate homelessness from our City.

In preparation for the 2018 count, which will begin at 10:30 p.m. on the night of Jan. 24 and conclude at 7 p.m. on Jan. 25, we are recruiting volunteers to canvass the City to count and survey all homeless individuals. Volunteers that have never participated in a PIT Count must be available to attend a one-hour training.

If you are available to volunteer or want additional information about the different types of opportunities please visit the 2018 Point-in-Time Count registration page. For the 2018 PIT Count, there are positions available to earn a stipend for six hours of PIT related work.

These paid positions are reserved for individuals who have experienced any of the following: homelessness; substance abuse disorder; a mental health diagnosis; military duty; dual diagnosis; housing insecurity. Positions will be filled on a lottery system and selected individuals will be notified by email. If you run a program and have participants interested in volunteering, please submit their information for consideration at the 2018 Point-in-Time Count registration page. Look for the Peer Team Member Application.


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.


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


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


Mayor’s Reception Room, City Hall


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.