PHILADELPHIA – The City’s Office of Homeless Services (OHS) today announced the award of nearly $4.2 million dollars in State CARES Emergency Solutions Grant or “ESG” funds for homelessness prevention, rapid rehousing, human services and legal assistance. Grantees were determined by the PA Department of Community and Economic Development based on submissions from the local competition. ESG funds are restricted for use for homelessness prevention, outreach, essential services and rapid rehousing.
“We are excited by the opportunity created by the State CARES ESG award. The competition both locally and statewide was fierce. These funds give the City a chance to meet some of the unmet, but urgent community needs – and bring new voices to the table” stated Liz Hersh, Director of OHS. The grant is separate from and in addition to the City’s recent award of federal CARES ESG funds.
Among the grants is $400,000 to a new partnership between SELF Inc., one of the city’s largest homeless services providers, and the William Way LGBTQ Community Center, to provide greater access to homeless assistance to the LGBTQIA community which may not seek help from the traditional homeless service system. “LGBTQIA people are often reluctant to enter shelters where they fear mistreatment. While the City has an equal access policy and affirmatively encourages people to enter services based on self-identification of gender identity, making services more accessible through a known LGBTQIA organization is an important addition” said Hersh.
OHS will be providing nearly $1.5 million to organizations serving the Latinx/Hispanic community, including a new partnership with Nueva Esperanza Inc. “The Latinx community has been hard hit by COVID. Spanish-speaking people are undercounted among those experiencing homelessness or extreme housing insecurity. In addition to Esperanza, these funds are going to Congreso de Latinos Unidos and HACE, established providers who are well-known in their communities, have bilingual, bicultural staff, and offer a wide range of other housing and social services to offer. People feel comfortable going to these known, local providers.”
OHS will be investing over $800,000 to help young adults facing homelessness. “By supporting Valley Youth House which has been a leader in helping young adults experiencing homelessness, and Turning Points for Children, which provides immediate, direct and sustained supportive services for supporting youth aging out of foster care, we hope to prevent more of Philly’s young people from falling through the cracks. We can’t afford to lose the next generation of leaders.”
State CARES ESG funds will also be invested in “SOAR,” the SSI/SSDI Outreach, Access, Recovery program, which is designed to increase access to the disability income benefit programs administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) for eligible adults and children who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness and have a serious mental illness, medical impairment, and/or a co-occurring substance use disorder. “We know that there are more than 150 people over the age of 65 who are living unsheltered on the streets of Philadelphia right now. While we are trying to bring them into the COVID Prevention Spaces where they can be housed and protected, we also want to be sure they are getting any income for which they are eligible.”
A complete list of organizations and grants is below.