Philly IMC reports on skyrocketing homeless population

Aaron Couch does a bang-up job reporting on the dramatic increase in Philadelphia’s homeless population (http://phillyimc.org/en/2007/10/42620.shtml). Citing a recent census by the city’s outreach teams, Couch reports that this past summer, the city counted at least 621 people on our streets, the highest number in a decade and more than double four years ago. The study also says the city lacks at least 60,000 units of affordable housing.

As we know, the Affordable Housing Trust was established in 2005, after a significant Council fight, for a mere $15 million. Community advocates had fought for far more dollars, pointing to other cities like Chicago which had put forward tens of millions of dollars toward similar efforts.

I am ashamed to say that this issue didn’t become truly personal to me until last winter when it happened to one of my daughter’s elementary school classmates. The thought of a family we knew with young children being out on the street or fighting it out in one of the city shelters (which were fully booked at the time anyway) was deeply frightening and disempowering.

The answers, like so many, are not so much a visionary hurdle as they are a matter of will. Couch shows that the people most deeply impacted are clearly aware of what solutions are necessary: housing, transition programs, and investment in medical and institutional help for those suffering from addiction or mental health problems.

Here's what frustrates me

Philadelphia has managed the seemingly impossible feat of having both an excess of housing- housing for ~ 2 million people in a city w/a population of less than 1.5 million- and a growing homeless population. Shouldn't we be able to, perhaps with volunteer help, rehabilitate at least some of these empty houses into reasonable housing for the city's homeless population.

It's 100% achievable- it only needs the political will + money. But, since the housing stock is already there, the money shouldn't be excessive.

-Z

I am kind of fascinated

by this 'housing first,' actually putting chronically homeless people in houses/apartments thing.

But I always think the starting point is the bare number of available affordable places for people to live.

dumb question

what's the IMC?

acm

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
— Margaret Mead

IMC

The Philadelphia Independent Media Center (PhillyIMC) is a grassroots news organization serving Philadelphia and the surrounding areas.

PhillyIMC is also the local organizing unit of the global Indymedia network. PhillyIMC was among the first of over 200 Indymedia centers that have sprung up in cities across the U.S. and in over 50 countries world wide.

PhillyIMC seeks to play a major role in social, economic, and environmental justice movements by creating alternatives to the profit- driven agenda of the corporate media and providing an open forum for the "passionate and accurate tellings of truth."

PhillyIMC includes a website (phillyimc.org), radio station (Radio Volta), community center and performance space (LAVA), and an upcoming newspaper.

So I guess that means you missed the real-time coverage of me getting arrested with dozens of puppets only seven years ago...

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