PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Democratic National Convention may have been life-changing for many people, perhaps none more than 35 Philadelphians who were homeless and are now transitioning into housing because of stepped up outreach efforts during the event.
The city spent $86,000 on 20 additional outreach workers and 100 additional shelter beds designated for “respite” during the convention.
Office of Homeless Services director Liz Hersh says the outreach workers had contact with 600 people and 75 used the respite beds, including four couples, two dogs, a cat and a parakeet (and their owners).
Of those, Hersh says, 35 have decided to come off the street:
“We’ve been able to get some people into drug treatment, we’re getting some people into safe havens, which are very supportive, what they call low barrier shelters. We’re getting some people into rapid rehousing.”
She says it’s a larger lesson for the city:
“When we have the dedicated resources and when we have a good strategy, we can help people come in, they start to rest and get fed and clean and cool and safe and they start to be able to think about the future differently.”
The effort included providing information to visitors through hand cards with tips for helping the homeless. Hersh says the city will continue distributing the cards.