We believe that housing is a basic human need and a basic human right.
It has been over sixty years since housing was recognized as a basic human right in this country, and it has been nearly the nearly thirty years since the tragedy of homelessness led to the creation of a homeless industry. The existence of that industry does nothing to affirm housing as a basic need or a basic human right.
We know that homelessness CAN be ended by reversing the current approach which provides housing LAST, if at all. We see the evidence of the effectiveness of the HOUSING FIRST strategy around the country and here in Philadelphia. The HOUSING FIRST program we created — SafeHome Philadelphia — moved 121 poor families and 300 children into safe, affordable homes. We proved HOUSING FIRST works in Philadelphia, producing a stability rate of 85%, which matched the national models.
We believe all anti-homelessness resources should be invested in keeping people in housing PREVENTION and moving people quickly into HOUSING, not shelters or other institutional settings.
We believe that the experts – people experiencing homelessness/bad housing – are the missing participants in policy determinations. As a result, policies continue to develop which prolong homelessness and, all too often, demean and isolate people without housing. We are building an approach which is encapsulated in two short sentences: There is no ‘them’. There is only ‘us’.
We believe in evidence, not anecdotes. Evidence shows how effective and humane HOUSING FIRST programs are, not to mention how cost effective! The City of Philadelphia testified before City Council stating that it costs the city $35,000 just to keep a family in shelter for one year. SafeHome Philadelphia costs $5,000 per family. And that is only aspect of a very expensive system.
We believe that unhoused individuals and families – like all of us, do need supports to build stability, and those supports are available in community based settings and mainstream health and human services where housed and un-housed people are treated alike.
The Philadelphia Committee to END Homelessness’ mission is its name. Homelessness is a solvable problem which can be quickly ended or prevented. There is no need for an extensive and expensive pro-homelessness infrastructure. Informed, determined citizens – a committee – can make that happen. That is who PCEH has been from the beginning – a group of citizens anxious to see and achieve the end of homelessness.
Finally, we only seek and accept only private funding so that we have the flexibility to meet people’s needs as defined by them and and so that we can continue to search for best solutions.