By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — North Philadelphia will soon be getting a wellness center designed to meet the needs of the homeless and those who live in poverty.

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Construction of the Stephen Klein Wellness Center was announced today by the homeless advocacy group “Project HOME.”

The wellness center has been a dream at Project HOME for several years.  Vice president Monica McCurdy says the population it works with is far less healthy than the population as a whole.

“The Philadelphia homeless population exceeds the nation in the prevalence of diabetes, heart disease, smoking, and depression,” she notes.

In addition, she says, that North Philadelphia community has the lowest life expectancy in the city.

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The wellness center, which will go up at 21st Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue, will work with the entire community, providing services including health and fitness classes, oral health, a pharmacy, and physical therapy.  Jefferson Hospital will provide medical services.

The breakthrough came when developer and philanthropist Stephen Klein stepped in to help the project become a reality.

“And so we stand here today feeling that we have the program that will be the right program for this community,” he said.

Construction of the center will begin early next year.

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