Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Philly a model in handling the homeless?!

I can remember back about 7 years when a "sidewalk ordinence" was passed to allow ticketing of anybody misusing the Philadelphia sidewalks. It was controversial because, skateboarders and bikers aside, most people felt it was an attempt to criminalize homelessness. In the wake of the outcry, however, it appears that (under *my* radar at least) the city made compromises with the businesses and residents who wanted more regulation, by putting substantial amounts of money into improved homeless services in return.
Since the passage of that 1998 law, Philadelphia has added hundreds of beds in small shelters, transitional housing and apartment buildings throughout the city. Not only are the homeless offered a place to stay, they're assigned a case manager who gets them into programs intended to keep them off the street.
The support facilities appear to be integrated into just about every neighborhood in the city, and the police have a special unit that handles calls about homeless people. All remarkably enlightened and effective too.
"There is a path out of homelessness, but it's like walking through a forest; you need a guide," said Marcella Maguire, Philadelphia's director of initiatives for the chronically homeless.
(via Karl at PhillyFuture)


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