By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The underground hub for Center City’s homeless is in limbo, just as Philadelphia gets hit with its first code blue temperatures of the year.
“There are hundreds of people in Suburban station right now,” Karen Orrick is Project Coordinator for Hub of Hope. For the past three years, from January to April the hub has run a storefront under Penn Center that provided drop in services for those living underground.
“People experiencing homelessness in the concourse can come grab a cup of coffee, talk to a case manager, talk to a doctor or psychiatrist,” says Orrick, who notes many of the long-term homeless have mental health issues. She says Septa police worked with Project Home, directing individuals to the hub for help.
“Last year we served over a thousand people and we had over 6000 visits,” she says.
But they haven’t open this season because their storefront space is no longer available.
“There were some complaints from tenants,” says Orrick. “We’re not really sure what the nature of the complaints were — we were even willing to pay rent.”
When the cold strikes people are trying to find a way to get warm,” says Carol Thomas, director of homeless services for Project Home. She says the hub is critical since a third of the homeless in Center City live in the concourse.
“There’s a lot of pressure to at times make them invisible, but they’re not,” she says. “We really have been scrambling, but we’re in the business of hope.”
Thomas says Project Home is working to re-open the hub this season. She says they’re looking for a new space on the concourse — but they’ll open a mobile unit even if they are unable to create another storefront.
“We’re committed,” she says. “We will find a way.”