PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Mayor Jim Kenney will present his budget to city council Thursday. He’s promised no new taxes but he is expanding services in at least one area. The mayor plans to propose more funds for housing the homeless.
The budget will include just over a million dollars to pay for 83 units of rapid rehousing for families and supportive housing for people with substance abuse or mental health issues. Homeless Services Director Liz Hersh says these solutions have a 90 percent success rate in preventing a return to homelessness.
“We’re excited about this because it’s the first new investment by the city in housing homeless people in many, many years,” Hersh said. “It’s not shelter expansion. People don’t want shelter. It’s really not a person-centered approach to the problem.”
The city’s investment comes as an opioid crisis makes the problem more urgent and federal lawmakers threaten budget cuts.
“The city just has to solve its own problems,” Hersh said. “There comes a time when you just have to take the bull by the horns.”
Hersh says it may seem like an expensive investment, but ultimately it saves money.
“Not only is it much better for that individual, it’s less burden on police, EMTS, ER’s, psych hospitals, transit stations, parks,” she said.
Hersh is responding to concerns, not only from advocates, but from business and tourism officials who fear street homelessness is dampening economic development.