PHA Celebrates Anniversary of Blueprint Program

The combination of housing and services has kept formerly homeless from returning to street

(Philadelphia, PA - July 6, 2016) - As the partnership between the Philadelphia Housing Authority(PHA), the city's Office of Supportive Housing (OSH) and the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS) celebrates the end of its eighth year, the program has shown that a combination of a permanent home and supportive services can prevent formerly homeless people from returning to the street or shelter.

Overall, 93 percent of the nearly 3,300 individuals and families helped by the Blueprint to End Homelessness since 2009 have maintained their independence and did not return to homelessness.The housing opportunities are provided through public housing units or Housing Choice vouchers, depending upon availability. The program provides up to 500 housing opportunities annually.

"We are firmly committed to assist Mayor Kenney in his efforts of fighting homelessness by stabilizing individuals and families and helping them secure permanent housing," said PHA President and CEO Kelvin Jeremiah. "These types of partnerships are important because PHA cannot solve the issue of homelessness or affordable housing alone."

"What's especially impressive is that the individuals in the program are all people who entered with a behavioral health challenge in addition to being homeless. It is the combination of an affordable unit with services, or what we call supportive housing, that makes up the "secret sauce," said OSH Director Liz Hersh.  "You really need both components to ensure the complete transition."

"Given that a high percentage of homeless individuals experience behavioral health challenges, providing residential and housing supports is only one step to stability," said Dr. Arthur C. Evans, Commissioner of the City's Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Service (DBHIDS). "In addition to working collaboratively with PHA and OSH to provide residential and housing supports, we also help to ensure individuals have appropriate behavioral health services to support long-term, sustained recovery."

Troy Dupree, who is single, came into the Blueprint to End Homelessness Program in 2012. He had lost everything he had, including his career as a funeral director, to recreational drug use. Eventually, Mr. Dupree entered a detox program and a light went on. "When I realized that it was time to change, basically what I needed was an address 'cause you can't do anything without an address," he said. "It was a saving grace." Having a permanent home allowed Mr. Dupree to look for employment. He now works in a funeral home, makes over $50,000 annually, and has been referred to PHA's Housing Choice homeownership program. For other people, the Blueprint to End Homelessness Program insures that they have a certain quality of life.

Diane Currie-Miner and her husband are both disabled and on Supplemental Security Income. The PHA staff assisted the couple with their move to permanent housing during the winter. She and her husband had been couch surfing with their families until they could get a place of their own. Without the subsidy from the Housing Choice Voucher program, the Curries could not afford the housing they now have.

"It makes it possible for me to be independent," Mrs. Currie said. "At the end of the day, I don't have to answer to anyone. It's nice being in the Blueprint Program because as long as you pay your bills, you have a place to stay."Mrs. Currie recently obtained a Rascal scooter chair, so she can get around. She's currently waiting for an agency to approve her for a wheelchair ramp.

Under the current agreement with the City through June 2018, PHA is committed to providing 500 more housing opportunities per year to the Blueprint program, 300 for families and 200 for individuals.