Roots and Branches: Reflections from Sister Mary
This story originally appeared in our Winter Edition of News from HOME.
As we start 2019, all of us at Project HOME are deeply grateful for the progress that has been made – with your support and commitment – in addressing homelessness. We have brought thousands of persons home, including many people who had lived on streets with severe, untreated mental illness.
We continue to assert that we know what it will take to end street homelessness in Philadelphia. But we also know that enormous challenges loom. While the numbers of persons on the streets has fallen considerably in recent years, today we see two troubling factors that are aggravating the situation, and which we must confront head-on.
The first is the continuing – and more desperate – lack of affordable housing. The local housing boom may be good for the larger economy, but the increasing costs are worsening the situation for persons on the bottom rung of the economic ladder, for whom decent housing options are precarious at best.
The other, as we all painfully know, is the explosion of addiction, especially the opioid crisis. This crisis affects people from every walk of life, landing many people on the streets and tragically claiming hundreds of lives in Philadelphia each year.
Along with numerous nonprofit and government groups, we are redoubling efforts, both to develop meaningful solutions, such as recovery housing linked with employment, and to learn more about best-practices, including such medical models as Medication Assisted Treatment, which we are utilizing at our Stephen Klein Wellness Center with great success. As you read in “Title” on page 1, we are developing a strategic plan for Kensington, the heart of the opioid crisis in Philadelphia, including early plans for a new residence dedicated to recovery and employment. Also many of our resident leaders have launched a monthly Recovery Café program, to provide affirming, supportive space for persons in recovery.
As we strengthen our outreach efforts to provide help and healing to individuals who are in the grasp of addiction on the streets, we much also work on the public policies and the economic forces to increase the availability of affordable permanent supportive housing. We must do the advocacy work that will help make our society more just and compassionate.
More progress can and will be made in 2019. We face these challenges with hope and with the power of community, as well as the strength of so many remarkable women and men who bear witness to what it means to come home.