Housing First - A Solution that Works for Ending Homelessness
Pathways To Housing PA believes that housing is a basic human right.
They work with people that are chronically homeless and suffer with a serious and persistent mental illness. These are people that have been on the streets for 5, 10, 15, and sometimes even 20 years. Their success is primarily because they offer people something that they have never been offered before, and that is a place of their own.Pathways moves people who have been chronically homeless directly from the streets into apartments that they rent throughout the city, instantly making them part of a neighborhood and of the community. Once settled in, they successfully engage with a variety of services that are offered. Pathways to Housing PA currently serves about 310 people who they refer to as program participants, and the data has shown that they are remarkably successful with an 85 % housing retention rate with people that have been homeless for years.
In 2010 and again in 2013 I was hired to create multimedia videos that define the work that Pathways To Housing PA does in Philadelphia, PA. These are the still photos taken for these two projects. The first series of portraits were taken of Pathways participants in the places where they slept while homeless such as dumpsters, bathroom stalls, and park benches located primarily in and around center city Philadelphia. Next is a series of portraits of Pathways participants in their apartments that they picked out with the help of Pathways’ housing department. Lastly is a series of photos from “moving in day” taken of a new client of Pathways moving into his apartment .
I learned many truths about humanity working with both the staff and the participants at this program. I witnessed healing among the most downtrodden and sick, dignity restored to those who once thought they had lost it forever, lives reclaimed when offered a little kindness and support… and even when they had messed up, there was someone from their Pathways' team to pick them up again and again. I saw addictions slowly go away without being forced into a program; and those who once fought it, volunteer to take medication. I watched this “mission driven” and extremely dedicated staff being tested in all kinds of ways that I never thought possible, and continue to remain compassionate and respectful to those who were suffering and in need of their assistance. These are the untouchables and disenfranchised of our society; the ones who, when we meet them on the street, we cross to the other side. They disturb us on so many levels. They ask us for money, they physically offend us, they hit us deep within our hearts where a sense of guilt arises as to why are they not getting the help that they need? They ARE getting help now, and not only is the Pathways Housing First Program working for its participants, it is saving our city money and restoring our faith in humanity in the City of Brotherly Love Philadelphia.
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Pathways to Housing - PA
5201 Old York Road, Suite 108
Philadelphia, PA 19141
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Sarah S Bones