PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A dedication ceremony was held today at Connelly House, in center city Philadelphia, where nearly 80 formerly homeless men and women have been settling into apartments of their very own as they try to turn their lives around.

The eight-story Connelly House cost $20 million to build.  There are 79 apartments, a multipurpose room (below), laundry facilities, an exercise room, and a “green” roof with outdoor furniture for residents.

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community rm mcdev Ceremonial Ribbon Cutting Held For New Homeless Transition Apartments in Philadelphia

Many of those residents want more than anything to become independent and transition back into society.

stallworth dionne side mcdev Ceremonial Ribbon Cutting Held For New Homeless Transition Apartments in Philadelphia“I was never supposed to be homeless, I was never supposed to have mental illness, I was never supposed to be in poverty,” says 52-year-old Dionne Stallworth (right), who moved in to the facility about five months ago.

She was doing some housework when I visited her place and getting ready to bake eggplant parmesan in her own kitchen.

“You know, people who are homeless, people who have mental illness, for the most part we don’t want a handout,” she said. “We just want a hand to get back up.”

Staff members at Connelly House work with residents to identify goals and help them take the necessary steps in reaching those goals.  Stallworth is working on an online masters’ degree in library and information science.

“I want to be a children’s librarian,” she told me.

Connelly House is  a joint venture between Project H.O.M.E. and the Bethesda Project.

Reported by John McDevitt, KYW Newsradio 1060

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