The Hub of Hope facility is located in SEPTA's Suburban Station.
Winter’s bone-chilling temperatures are now gripping most of the country. When the frigid weather makes it too hazardous to stay outside, many homeless seek shelter in train stations, bus depots and other public facilities.
In Philadelphia in recent years, every day anywhere from 100 to 300 homeless men and women would take refuge in the downtown concourses that connect to Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority's (SEPTA) regional (commuter) rail, subway and trolley lines. That number would fluctuate seasonally, increasing as temperatures dipped. However over the past two years, SEPTA has seen a decline in the number of homeless looking to stay in its stations.
“Our most recent quarterly census of the homeless population in the Center City concourses overnight was 75,” said SEPTA Police Inspector Steven Harold. “Previously we had 200 people in our Suburban Station area alone.”
Harold credits the decrease in a consistent application of SEPTA’s business model (“when the stations are closed, our patrolling officers ensure the concourses are also closed") and an affiliation between SEPTA and Project HOME, a Philadelphia–based organization that works to end homelessness through outreach, education and other intervention programs.
“Project HOME operates the ‘Hub of Hope’ in our Suburban Station from January through April, when the cold weather is the most intense,” said Harold. “This facility is staffed by professionals that can help the individuals in need find shelter, medical care and other social services. This SEPTA/Project HOME partnership with the Hub of Hope is the first of its kind between a transit agency and a social service organization.”
Kanika Stewart, a resource manager for Project HOME.
The Hub of Hope was established in 2012 to offer a variety of services and housing, especially for those experiencing long-term street homelessness. The center is staffed with resource managers, peer specialists, recovery coaches, and physical and behavioral healthcare professionals from numerous Philadelphia-based agencies, including Project HOME, the Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania, the City of Philadelphia, Jefferson Hospital and Public Health Management Corp. In 2013, 157 individuals who visited the Hub of Hope were placed into shelter, treatment and other housing options throughout Philadelphia.
“SEPTA has been an invaluable partner to the Hub of Hope and Project HOME,” said Karen Orrick, project coordinator for Hub of Hope and Strategic Initiatives for Project HOME. “Each year, the SEPTA Police Department can identify for us the individuals who have long histories in the station so that Project HOME can target our outreach efforts to these individuals.”
“Our officers ask the homeless in our stations and concourses if they want or need assistance,” said Harold. “The officers can contact Project HOME and have their outreach staff work with the individuals in need or can take them directly to the Hub of Hope.”
Working as a team, the SEPTA Police Department and Project HOME resource managers can offer options for places individuals can go and services they can receive to obtain permanent housing.
“Both organizations act as eyes and ears for one another with regard to safety and well-being of individuals experiencing homelessness in the station,” said Orrick.
Since the SEPTA/Project HOME relationship began, SEPTA has seen its Center City Philadelphia homeless population reduced by 50%.
“Being homeless is not a crime,” said Harold. “Working with the Hub of Hope, Project HOME and the other social services organizations, we’ve been able to help get people the medical treatments and support they need to get off the streets, rather than to simply push them out of the stations.”
In case you missed it...
Read our METRO blog, "What will the impact of automated vehicle technology be on public transportation?"
Disruptive technologies and the new era of information sharing are helping to evolve and advance public transportation in our nation’s greatest cities. Nearly 300 mayors and government officials convened in San Francisco June 19-22 for the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ 83rd Annual Meeting, featuring remarks from President Obama and former U.S. Secretary of State and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. I was invited to speak in front of these influential government leaders to discuss “Technology and the Transformation of Urban Transportation.” This article will give readers an inside look at the conversation.
In times of disaster or tragedy, public transit agencies are frequently called upon to assist their communities and other transportation organizations. In case of fire, evacuation or accident, buses may be used to shelter or transport the displaced or injured, or serve as a respite site for first responders.
As a city, Leipzig is an excellent example of the German principals of transport planning and service as well as eastern Germany’s long history. The city has benefitted from large amounts of investment in infrastructure over the years since German reunification and most transport systems seem to be new or rebuilt, expanded and in a very good current state of repair. The most notable element in the transport mix is inevitably the enormous and historic main railway station, which is one of the largest, but certainly not busiest, in Europe.
The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority’s Regional (commuter) Rail system was inherited from the Pennsylvania and Reading Railroads and the infrastructure in many sections of the system has been serving the Philadelphia area for more than 100 years. Fifteen years ago, overhead catenary system (OCS) failures were a common occurrence on SEPTA Regional Rail, a result of fatigue cracks and wear. The all too common OCS failures were frustrating for SEPTA customers who occasionally found it difficult to depend on train service for their travels and for SEPTA, whose crews were constantly working to repair and maintain the system.
London is one of the grand cities of the world and in the midst of the cycling revolution. Led by the city’s transport organization – Transport for London, but supported by more fundamental changes in the city’s society, economy and perceptions of lifestyle and mobility, cycling is “on a roll”!