Our History: Two Decades Of Effective Solutions
Since its beginning in 1988, Project HOME has been a leader in providing comprehensive and effective services to persons who experience chronic homelessness. With innovation, leadership, and an unyielding commitment to the dignity of each person, we have developed nationally recognized programs that have proven that homelessness can be solved. We have also been a leader in Philadelphia in responding to the root causes of homelessness by helping to rebuild low-income neighborhoods and by engaging in political advocacy to bring about positive public policies for low-income and homeless persons.
Project HOME grew out of the experience and expertise of two programs that had been providing services to homeless persons: Bethesda Project and Women of Hope. In the winter of 1988-1989, these two organizations pooled their personnel and administrative resources to respond to the unmet needs of the chronically homeless persons who were still living on the streets, setting up a temporary shelter called the Mother Katherine Drexel Residence for chronically homeless men.
Project HOME opened its first transitional house in June, 1990. The Diamond Street residence offered a safe, stable environment for up to 12 men making progress on various recovery, health care, education and employment goals.
During the winter of 1990-1991, Project HOME ran a third emergency winter shelter at a facility. That summer, Project HOME opened a second transitional residence for 10 men – The Crossing in West Philadelphia.
In 1992, working in conjunction with the City of Philadelphia's Office of Mental Health, Project HOME opened two new programs designed to meet the needs of mentally disabled homeless persons: the Kairos House transitional residence, and the In Community Supported Independent Living Program. Project HOME also took over operation of the Outreach Coordination Center, to coordinate public and private outreach efforts to homeless persons still living on the streets. That same year Project HOME took over operation of St. Columba's, a safe haven for older, frail men.
The next few years saw tremendous growth, as Project HOME became recognized as an effective organization. From 1992 to 1995, Project HOME expanded its residential program, especially as more of our residents were able to move into permanent housing units. In 1993, recognizing the growing need of homeless men struggling with addiction, Project HOME opened the St. Elizabeth Recovery Residence. Project HOME added additional units at In Community, renovate and expand Kairos House, renovate both The Crossing and Diamond Street into permanent housing and add new permanent units at 1523 Fairmount Avenue.
As residents were gaining more stability in the various programs, Project HOME worked to develop its employment and education programs. In 1993, Project HOME began the creation of job-training/employment initiatives, which has grown into the Social Enterprises department, which includes our HOME Page Café, the HOME Spun Resale Boutique, and HOME Made. A fourth, the Bathroom Attendant program, is operated in conjunction with the Free Library of Philadelphia.
In 1994, Project HOME won a four-year political and legal battle to open 1515 Fairmount Avenue, which would provide 48 units of permanent housing. The legal victory became a landmark fair-housing ruling.
In 1995, realizing that an increasing number of mentally ill women were on the streets, Project HOME opened Haven of Hope, a temporary entry-level residence. Two years later, Project HOME opened a permanent residence for mentally ill women from the streets – Women of Change.
In the spring of 2000, Project HOME opened its first residence for homeless families –Rowan Homes –providing housing and services to 31 families.
In 2004, Project HOME opened the Honickman Learning Center and Comcast Technology Labs, a 38,000-square-foot state-of-the-art education and technology center. Located on the 1900 block of N. Judson Street, the Center's programs focus on the integration of technology with art, education and enterprise. Programs are tailored to help the residents of the community – children, youth, adults and families – move towards greater prosperity by increasing their educational and employment opportunities through comprehensive technology and literacy instruction.
In 2005, Project HOME sought to address the city of Philadelphia's affordable housing crisis by opening Kate's Place. It features 144 SROs (single-room occupancy) apartments for low- to moderate-income individuals in a wonderfully renovated historic eleven-story architectural gem in Center City. Project HOME has received much praise as a national model of comprehensive, effective services, and has been recognized as a leader in Philadelphia. Kate's Place was joined by the James Widener Ray Homes in 2012, and Project HOME's newest residence, the JBJ Soul Homes, is expected to open in the winter of 2013.