Emergency Housing Services That Work
Bruce sleeps on Wood Street between 18th and 19th and has for over 10 years, refusing all housing options. But this winter, after multiple outreach engagements, he agreed to sleep inside at the winter respite in the basement of Arch Street United Methodist Church. After a few months of good rest and encouragement, he finally agreed to sign paperwork to connect him to Pathways to Housing PA, a housing-first agency which will link him to his own apartment.
Arch Street United Methodist Church, Student-Run Emergency Housing Unit of Philadelphia (SREHUP), and Project HOME partner to provide 22 stabilization beds for men from mid- November through mid-April. This critical partnership is
spearheaded by the bold and visionary commitment of the Rev. Robin Hynicka whose congregation’s reputation for social justice and hospitality is known throughout the city and the dedicated and tireless leadership from Villanova professor Stephanie Sena, who heard a radio report on a student-run shelter at Harvard and organized students to create one to Philadelphia.
SREHUP’s shelter allows vulnerable individuals experiencing chronic street homelessness to get an immediate bed, shower, and hot meal, while they work towards more permanent housing. There are often many steps people must complete to move toward housing: compiling identification and documentation, obtaining medical and psychiatric evaluations, going through an approval process, and waiting for bed availability. For many however, the hardest step is deciding to go inside.
While emergency shelters in the City provide an essential service, many resist going in due to reported long distances or waits, overcrowding, excessive rules, poor living conditions, theft, feeling disrespected, or other barriers to feeling safe. Many would rather take their chances on the street.
SREHUP’s peaceful, low-demand, centrally-located shelter at 55 N. Broad Street, approximately two blocks from the Hub of Hope, provides a welcoming and attractive option for even those most wary of shelters. The students who serve meals and build relationships based in dignity and respect are a welcome connection to guests who spend cold days trying to find meals and peace. The central location means Hub of Hope staff can walk fragile individuals over to the church in the evenings. Once stabilized in a warm bed, SREHUP guests can check in with Hub case managers in the mornings and evenings before and after they wake up about housing plans.
The community feel and generous spirit of the shelter would not be possible without hard work and dedication of staff, particularly Claudell Edwards and Pete Fuller who have worked as night supervisors for four years and running, as well as the teamwork amongst the Arch Street United Methodist church hospitality team and the student leaders in SREHUP.
Over the course of this winter, November 17 to April 18, over 64 men stayed at SREHUP. A full report detailing the placements of individuals from SREHUP and the work of the Hub of Hope will be available soon. In the meantime, take a look at last year's report and recent stories related to the Hub.