Philadelphia, PA - The City of Philadelphia announced the completion of a pilot encampment action plan for the Kensington area as part of the City’s latest efforts in combating the opioid crisis in Philadelphia. The 30-day pilot targeted Tulip Street and Kensington Avenue encampments that were adjacent to residential neighborhoods and posed a health and safety threat to those who stay there as well as to the neighbors.
“We have never seen a crisis like this before in Philadelphia and doing nothing is not an option,” said Managing Director Michael DiBerardinis. “We are happy with the preliminary results. We provided respite housing for over 100 people and saw more people enter treatment in the first two weeks of the pilot than in the prior six months; however we have more work to do.”
Some of the highlights include:
• Over 120 people accepted services
• Nearly four dozen people entered treatment
• More than two dozen people got ID cards, which nearly have of those surveyed identified as a barrier to leaving the camps
The encampment pilot plan included a multi-phase approach, with the first phase consisting of outreach and engagement efforts to those living in the encampments. The outreach phase included the development of a by-name list of those in the encampment and intensive, daily outreach to assess their needs and connect them to services, including respite and treatment. In partnership with neighborhood-based non-profit providers, the City provided services to individuals on the list. A total of 90 beds were available, which included the opening of a new 40-bed Navigation Center. The Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services and Community Behavioral Health worked with non-profit providers to provide immediate access to treatment. A mobile outreach and recovery van was also on site to provide medical care and immediate transportation to services.
“This pilot plan shows that many people really do want treatment and housing. When we start with what people need- and want- and are strategic in our efforts, we can make a difference,” said Liz Hersh, Office of Homeless Services Director. “We gave people a chance to get off the street and get the help they need by addressing barriers that are usually a deterrent, such as a lack of transportation and ID’s, as well as providing treatment on demand and low-barrier emergency housing for those who are not ready for treatment, but want to come in. We are very heartened by the results.”