Sidewalk Ordinance Task Force Cites Fewer Homeless In Center City

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Sat, 19 Jun 1999 18:52:22 -0700 (PDT)


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http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/990616/pa_philly__1.html
FWD  Wednesday June 16, 1999

     Press Release

     Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce [PA, USA]

     THE SIDEWALK ORDINANCE TASK FORCE CITES DROP
     IN NUMBER OF HOMELESS IN PHILADELPHIA

PHILADELPHIA, June 16 /PRNewswire/ -- City officials, business
representatives and advocates are applauding encouraging signs in the
struggle against homelessness in Philadelphia. These signs of progress will
be the topic of a press conference this Thursday, June 17, at 10:00 a.m. at
Women of Change, an entry-level residence for mentally ill homeless women,
located at 2042 Arch Street.

Recent counts by outreach teams and police indicate that the number of
people living on the streets of Center City is down significantly from
previous years. This is due largely to new outreach and residential
services funded by the City and broad public-education efforts to get
citizens involved
in helping the homeless.

The progress is also an outgrowth of a new cooperative spirit that emerged
out of last year's stormy debate over the controversial Sidewalk Ordinance.
Former opponents are now working together to promote constructive solutions
to homelessness, and an increasing number of business people, Town Watch
representatives and neighborhood groups are getting involved and
cooperating with outreach efforts.

A sign of that new cooperation is the Sidewalk Ordinance Task Force,
co-chaired by Sister Mary Scullion of Project H.O.M.E. and Former City
Council President John Street, who authored the Ordinance, and hosted by
the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. The Task Force is comprised
of service providers, clergy, and representatives from the Center City
business and residential communities.

``This is an exciting opportunity for our city,'' said Charles P. Pizzi,
president of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. ``The public and
private sectors are working in partnership to create effective services to
help people off the streets.''

``We still face many serious challenges,'' said S. Mary Scullion, ``but we
have shifted the debate away from policing our problems out of sight to one
of a shared commitment to solving homelessness.''

Another encouraging sign is that to date no homeless have been arrested or
cited under the Sidewalk Ordinance. Police officers are undergoing special
training on cooperating with outreach teams and interacting humanely and
effectively with homeless on the streets.

The Task Force and other advocates are currently advocating with State
officials to restore $2.2 million in Homeless Assistance Funds to
Philadelphia. In past years when these funds were withheld, the City was
forced to restrict shelter admission during the summer, causing a dramatic
increase in the numbers of homeless persons on the streets. The recent
budget from Governor Ridge does not include this $2.2 million, but there
has been some indication that homeless assistance, at least in part, will
be restored next year.

END FORWARD

**In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is
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