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Project HOME, Philadelphia, PA
Best Practice | August 11, 2006
Project H.O.M.E. is a nonprofit founded by Sister Mary Scullion and Joan Dawson McConnon in 1989. The organization provides a full range of services for chronically homeless people with mental illness and/or substance abuse disorders, including street outreach, safe havens, permanent supportive housing and a range of services to supplement housing. This continuum is an important part of Project H.O.M.E.'s success: each person is recognized as an individual with unique needs. Services at each facility are different; some residents are not ready to accept regimented drug or alcohol treatment, while others may be able to live almost independently.
After a long, and now infamous, legal battle, the permanent housing facility at 1515 Fairmount opened its doors in 1996. 1515 Fairmount is a 48 bed permanent housing facility for homeless mentally ill men and women. The services provided at 1515 Fairmount are not intensive, and the residents are self-sufficient enough to clean their rooms and cook for themselves. There is no curfew or program requirements at 1515. The most common diagnoses are schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Diagnoses are not what concern staff of this facility, however. More important is the level of independent living skills that potential clients possess, and the appropriateness of an environment that provides stable housing combined with low-level supportive services. Residents live in "clusters," in which 5-7 residents share living, dining and kitchen facilities.
Project H.O.M.E. is unique in its method for reaching clients for 1515 Fairmount. All referrals to 1515 Fairmount come through the Office of Mental Health. OMH stays involved with referred clients by continuing to provide one-on-one case management. All clients must have a history of homelessness or have been at risk of imminent homelessness. 1515 Fairmount employs a ?team interview? method to identify appropriate residents. A group of people who have been involved in the prospective resident?s treatment, including the city case manager and other programs officers, work with the Project H.O.M.E. team to determine whether 1515 would be a good fit. The notion of "fit" is integral to the program's success; not everyone will benefit from the model of low services adminstered at 1515.
1515 Fairmount employs two full-time case workers and one part-time case worker from 9-5 Monday-Friday. Also staffed is a 24-hour reception desk. Case management is supplemented greatly by the requirement that each resident have a case manager assigned by the city. 1515 Fairmount does not require a regimen of supportive services, but does ask each resident to be involved in some structured activity - whether it be employment, classes, or other daily activity - for 15 hours per week.
According to the project coordinator, Project H.O.M.E.'s most important outcome, and the primary ingredient for its success, is respect for each resident's dignity. While this is a difficult goal to measure, one need only to visit 1515 Fairmount, or any of Project H.O.M.E.'s sites, to know that they have succeeded. Residents feel a tremendous pride in their homes, and often in their recovery and independent living skills. Of all the residents that have lived at 1515 Fairmount since 1996, close to half still live there. Others have moved on to live independently, and others have decompensated and cycled back into the homeless assistance system.
Project H.O.M.E. was awarded a $2 million grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development in 1996 to rehab the property at
For More Information Contact:
Jeannine Lopez - Program information