Finding shelter during a pandemic: Project HOME completes new housing residence

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (WPVI) -- "Home" has always meant more than a roof over one's head for Sister Mary Scullion.

Her charity work during the 1980s led to interactions with many homeless individuals.

"I just wanted to take them home, right, you just want to have a place for them to call home," she said.

Shortly after, she would become the co-founder of Project HOME, a non-profit dedicated to ending and preventing homelessness in Philadelphia. It has provided more than 900 units of housing in the last 31 years.

But in the year 2020, it faced a challenge like no other.

"One of our long term projects, the Maguire Residence in Kensington, was under construction during the pandemic," she said. "And when we were in code red, they were really shutting down all construction projects."

Since the construction was deemed to directly address issues bolstered by the pandemic, Project HOME was given an exemption to continue construction work on their residence.

"All the things that we needed to do to keep ourselves safe during the pandemic, someone living on the street couldn't do," said Sister Mary Scullion. "You couldn't stay home. You didn't have a home to go to."

Having opened in June, the Maguire Residence on E. Orleans Street now provides more than 40 units of housing and other supportive services. Its towering facade shines as a beacon of hope in Kensington, otherwise known for its homeless population and opioid crisis.

Although the residence is finished, Project HOME's work is never over.

"We still see the need every single day at the Hub of Hope and through street outreach of more and more people who need a place to call home," said Sister Mary Scullion.

Referring to the acronym in their namesake, they continue to offer affordable housing, opportunities for employment, medical care and education.

Project HOME dispatches outreach workers when citizens find a homeless individual who needs and wants help. Their hotline is 215 232 1984.

Slightly more than half of the funds needed to maintain Project HOME stem from earned income and donations. To learn more or donate, visit their website.

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