Now this is some good news. Check out this press release from Project H.O.M.E.:
Most Influential” Honor Presents an Opportunity to “Finish the Job of Ending Homelessness”
Project H.O.M.E.-related inquiries: Amanda Aronoff, 215-518-7010
Homelessness-related inquiries: Laura Weinbaum, 215-439-1618
[Philadelphia, PA, May 1, 2009] The selection of Sister Mary Scullion by TIME Magazine as one of the “World’s 100 Most Influential People in 2009” represents an opportunity for a new national commitment to ending homelessness in the United States.
Sister Mary, a member of the Sisters of Mercy religious order and a co-founder of Project H.O.M.E., was cited for her leadership in helping reduce homelessness in Philadelphia. “I am profoundly grateful and moved by this honor,” she said. “And I accept it on behalf of the entire community of people committed to ending homelessness -- especially Project H.O.M.E.’s phenomenal co-founder Joan McConnon. Our crucial message is the urgent need to respond to those men, women, and children who are still on our streets and in our shelters.”
Philadelphia has one of the lowest rates of persons living on the streets among the nation’s largest cities; about 600 persons live on the streets of Center City Philadelphia, compared to more than 2,000 in New York City and 40,000 in Los Angeles. While Philadelphia has made remarkable progress, 800 new units per year are needed to address chronic homelessness. “This is not a time to retrench, but to move forward and make more progress and finish the job of truly ending homelessness.” This year, Mayor Michael Nutter committed to 700 new units that are setting the City in that direction, but the economic crisis and its impact on the City’s fiscal health has raised the specter of budget cuts. Project H.O.M.E. and other organizations are lobbying City Council to resist budget cuts and build on past successes through a commitment to more permanent supportive housing.
But the City cannot do it alone: advocates call for greater government involvement at the federal and state levels. The National Alliance to End Homelessness has a campaign for 90,000 new units of permanent supportive housing nationwide, and Pennsylvania housing advocates are calling for greater state investments (such as a state housing trust fund) in housing, like those which helped reduce homelessness in New York and Connecticut.
“We are so proud of Sister Mary,” said Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. “Her passion and influence have been crucial to the progress we have made in reducing homelessness across our City. Her quiet dignity belies her willingness to speak up for the voiceless and fight for those who cannot stand up for themselves. It's time the rest of the world got to know our Sister Mary.”
The TIME news comes in the wake of the release of the film The Soloist. Based on the best-selling memoir by former Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Steve Lopez, the film focuses on homelessness and mental illness and the invaluable power of caring and friendship. “This represents a tremendous opportunity for our society: to renew our concern for our citizens who are struggling with homelessness and to commit to new action to bring about solutions,” Sister Mary said.
She also cited the influence of people who have experienced homelessness. “Over the past thirty years, I have been inspired, motivated, and empowered by the lives of the men and women I have been privileged to work with. They have taught me about human dignity, community, and courage. They continue to be the true heroes of the struggle against homelessness and for a truly compassionate and just society.”
“Sister Mary is a formidable leader, said Nan Roman, president of the National Alliance to End Homelessness. “She’s been a driving force in reducing homelessness in Philadelphia, and an example for communities all over the country. Her blend of deep compassion and hard-headed practicality make her an invaluable ally and teacher.” Sister Mary was nominated for this honor by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the New York Times bestseller Eat, Pray, Love.
“Even while the nation and the city face tough economic times, this is an opportunity for us to make great progress,” said Sister Mary. “We can’t accept that our government can pour billions of dollars into failing corporations like AIG and not be able to fund permanent supportive housing which not only saves lives, but over time saves money. It is far more cost-effective to house a person on the street than to pay for prison, emergency room visits, and other expensive consequences of homelessness.”
Commenting on her honor, Sister Mary insisted, “All of us have influence. Now more than ever, we need to use that influence – that energy, that power – to build a society where all citizens can flourish and contribute. Let’s work to make that vision a reality.”
Since 1989, Project H.O.M.E. has helped more than 8,000 people break the cycle of homelessness and poverty by providing a continuum of care that includes street outreach, supportive housing and comprehensive services that focus on health care, education and employment. We also work to prevent homelessness and poverty through comprehensive neighborhood revitalization in North Philadelphia. These efforts include the renovation of vacant or deteriorated houses that are then sold to first-time homebuyers; economic reinvestment along the Ridge Avenue Corridor; greening of vacant lots; adult and youth education and enrichment programs at the Honickman Learning Center and Comcast Technology Labs; and community-based health care services.
Read the TIME Magazine article at http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1894410_1894289_1894282,00.html