Homeless Outreach

Strategies to reduce the number of homeless living on downtown streets, while providing compassionate outreach, links to appropriate services and job opportunities.

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To address panhandling and homelessness on Center City sidewalks, the CCD funds and deploys innovative outreach efforts, the Ambassadors of Hope, a unique partnership with Project HOME and the Philadelphia Police with strong support from the City of Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health. The CCD launched the effort in 2018, based on the assumption that complex social problems require an interdisciplinary approach, what is termed a “co-delivery” model of service.

Two teams each consisting of Project Home outreach workers; a crisis-intervention trained Philadelphia Police Officer from the Central Service Detail, a Community Service Representative (CSR) Homeless Outreach Team member from CCD, along with a CSR manager with a vehicle available to both teams. The teams patrol on foot and cover the Center City District’s entire footprint, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. One team patrols west of Broad Street and the other patrols east of Broad, with daily emphasis on engaging with well-known, chronically homeless individuals at recurrent gathering locations. The social service and outreach workers initiate each discussion.

Over the past four seasons, through consistent interaction with the AoH teams, over 500 unsheltered clients accepted help and were transported to service or treatment providers geared toward their individual needs, shelter or housing with CCD providing the transportation in about 80% of the cases. About 35% of those accepting services were chronically homeless individuals who resisted help and placement in the past. Those who did not accept services, but continued to engage in problematic behavior, were instructed by the police officers on the team to cease the behavior and all complied with no citations or code violation notices issued to date.

In October 2021, CCD added a mental health outreach worker from Penn Medicine to the AoH teams, bringing specialized expertise and connections to additional networks providing addiction treatment, shelter and housing for individuals with mental health and cognitive issues and the ability to assess and prepare mental health committal petitions for individuals in crisis. The AoH teams also secured emergency services (EMS) for more 35 individuals that they encountered who were in need of immediate medical treatment.  In 2021, all the costs of staff provided by Project Home was covered by generous contributions to the Center City District Foundation. For 2022, we already have contributions covering 70% of their costs, you can help us do more by supporting the CCD Foundation today.

2022 was the third year, during the winter months, that the CCD and Project Home provided outreach services in the same manner as AoH, except that a trained police officer was not assigned to each team, but was readily available through direct contact if needed. The 2022 Winter Outreach program started on December 27, 2021 and concluded on April 1, 2022. Over the past three years, the teams have helped over 115 unsheltered individuals come off Center City sidewalks, parks and concourses and were taken to housing, services and/or treatment providers.  On April 25, 2022, the full complement of team members will again be deployed. Contributions to the CCD Foundation are welcome to help continue this important work.

Learn more about how you can support Ambassadors of Hope.

Businesses, residents and members of the public may provide information regarding ongoing locations or individuals that our outreach teams should engage by emailing outreach@centercityphila.org.

Learn more about how you can support Ambassadors of Hope