KENSINGTON - Homelessness is a serious problem in Philadelphia and the opioid crisis in Kensington drives the numbers up.
But, through the help of Project Home, organizers hope change will come sooner, rather than later.
Amid the bone-rattling clatter of the El in Kensington, Kara Cohen sees her patients. The nurse practitioner is part of Project Home’s Street medicine team and Cohen is open for business.
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A man approaches with a deep wound on his finger. Cohen treats him and offers kind words before he slips away back to the streets of Kensington where heroin is pure and cheap and openly used.
"This is the center of opioid buying and selling on the East Coast of the United States," said Sister Mary Scullion, the renown co-founder of Project Home, the three-decade old organization offering housing and care for the homeless.
Scullion met FOX 29 for a tour of the Inn of Amazing Mercy, a recovery residence Project Home plans to open in January. In a formerly derelict five-story brick building in Kensington, Project Home is opening over 50 units of housing for those trying to kick their addiction and a medical center for those Kara Cohen meets on the street still struggling.
The city’s Office of Homeless Services says there are 788 unsheltered people in the city. Another 37 hundred are homeless but have a place to find shelter. The city argues homelessness is falling but punishing inflation may drive it up.
Scullion believes the grip of heroin and other drugs is driving the homeless population up in Kensington. Scullion said, "The need here is very, very critical. The number of unsheltered on the streets of Kensington is rising. We want to provide more pathways home for the people on the streets.’’
Scullion said she is opening the $25 million project with the help of private donors and local, state and the federal government.