Nutter vows to tackle homeless crisis

May 28, 2008 6:23:44 PM PDT
Mayor Michael Nutter on Wednesday announced a plan to address a homeless problem that he says is gripping the city. Nearly 390 people have been counted living on Philadelphia's streets and in its parks, Nutter said at a news conference Wednesday outside City Hall. Also, more than half the homeless families in the city are single mothers with children.

Nutter's plan includes adding 700 housing units and continuing social services, such as overnight cafes for those who refuse shelters and treatment.

It will take a long-term plan to fix what has become a chronic problem in the city, Nutter said. The estimated cost for 2009 is $8.3 million, his office said.

"Think about this tale of two cities," he said, telling a crowd that he often goes to a part of town where at dusk he can see the homeless sleep on park benches across the street from a luxury hotel.

"There are people sleeping there, too," Nutter said, adding that he wants all Philadelphians under a roof, not a tarp.

His plan includes adding 300 housing units for families and 200 for individuals.

For the chronic homeless, 125 units will be created with a promise for more until the year 2012. The plan also calls for 75 beds for those living with acute addiction or behavioral health problems.

Because the nationwide mortgage crisis has left too many Philadelphians living paycheck-to-paycheck and in fear of becoming homeless, Nutter said city money also will be spent on trying to keep homeowners from losing their homes.

The mayor's office will be working with the Philadelphia Housing Authority to provide the added housing opportunities and ongoing social services this year. PHA Executive Director Carl Greene praised Nutter for trying to tackle homelessness five months after taking office.


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