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Philadelphia received $42 million from the Biden administration to fund housing and services for people experiencing homelessness. (Photo by Visitor7 | CC BY-SA 3.0)

The Biden administration will provide the City of Philadelphia $42 million to offer more housing and services for people experiencing homelessness.

The money comes from a $5 billion fund dedicated to emergency housing assistance in the American Rescue Plan. Michael Hinson, president and CEO of SELF, Inc.—the largest provider of emergency housing for single adults — told The Philadelphia Inquirer that the city will prioritize creating permanent housing rather than additional homeless shelters. He also expressed the need for additional supportive services for people struggling with homelessness. 

Hinson suggested two ideas for permanent housing, the Inquirer reported. The first is to create single-room occupancy units. The second is to implement a shared housing model, where three adults live in one property with shared common areas. 

Local leaders, including Liz Hersh, director of Philadelphia’s Office of Homeless Services, and Sister Mary Scullion, executive director of the anti-homelessness agency Project HOME, praised the allocation of funds. Hersh told the Inquirer that Philadelphia can be used as an example for other cities because of its past progress in mitigating homelessness.

According to the Office of Homeless Services, Philadelphia has 5,634 people experiencing homelessness and of these, 958 are on the street. 

Jennifer Bennetch, an organizer for two homeless encampments in North Philadelphia and on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, told the Inquirer that the money should be used to rehabilitate vacant public properties for people experiencing homelessness, adding that she was skeptical about whether the city would follow through on its plans for permanent housing. 

Philadelphia will not receive the $42 million allocated from the American Rescue Plan until the fall, and must use the funds before 2030, the Inquirer reported. Another $5 billion will be released in the following months for emergency housing across the nation, but the share for Philadelphia remains unknown. 

Local leaders in Philadelphia anticipate progress on addressing homelessness as the city allocates the $42 million. 

"This is the first time in my nearly two-decade career that I've been really optimistic about affordable housing for people experiencing homelessness," CEO of the Philadelphia Housing Authority Kelvin Jeremiah told the Inquirer.

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