[NEWS] Hope from below: Inside plans to turn a SEPTA train hub into a haven for homeless
From Philadelphia Weekly:
Suburban Station is Joyce’s go-to spot.
It’s well-lit, relatively safe with its police monitoring, and, as she affirms, has more space than most city shelters.
Sitting on the floor near the subway lines with a homeless sign propped up against her hip, Joyce is a transient whose full name is withheld at her request. She writes a short story about a dysfunctional family on a notebook while people look down at her as they pass by.
“People see the homeless as just a waste, but for many of us, we aren’t doing it on purpose,” Joyce told PW, eyes affixed on the words she’s scribbled into her notebook. But what [those same people don’t understand is that] we need help now. It’s getting cold, it's really cold. If we have nowhere to go at night, we could die out here.”
As the temperature drops, station stops have become homeless hangouts, and it is a situation that has caught the attention of the City of Philadelphia and SEPTA.
“We had a record number of people, about 350 people, who were in the [Suburban Station] concourse at peak last year. So I think SEPTA and the City were like, 'oh my goodness,'” said Liz Hersh, director of the City’s office of homeless services.
It was this harsh reality check that fueled a partnership between the City of Philadelphia, SEPTA, and Project HOME, to work on the homeless advocacy center’s pre-existing project “Hub of Hope,” a homeless service center in Suburban Station. For the past six years the Hub of Hope has only been available during the winter season, but this past summer, SEPTA and the City co-wrote the check on a $1.4 million bill to make the service spot a permanent feature of the train station.