Homeless Finding their way to Project Home
Erika Hickerson, Case Manager Safe Haven 1 and 2 for Project Home, says there are 18 programs at “Project H.O.M.E, which is a Philadelphia non-profit organizationempowering individuals to break the cycle of poverty and homelessness through affordable housing, employment, health care, and education.”
“We have 18 programs in total, but the most known part of our program is our street outreach department, where they go out in teams, along with other agency, but we are in charge of coordinating Philadelphia’s outreach efforts,” continues Hickerson. “So we manage the dispatch center, we manage the team and send the teams to different sites and meet people where they are”. For example, if you were out in the streets and saw somebody, you call the outreach dispatch and tell them where that person is and they will dispatch a team to where the person is and pick them up.”
Hickerson said, typically the outreach dispatch will bring them back to 1515 Fairmount Ave. But they have shelters placement, can find a placement over the phone, and will get them of the streets, and 80-90% of the first contact they don’t want to go there so they offer them food, water, clean clothes and things like that.”
“We have entry level plan who are fresh of the streets and those are safe havens, and those people severe mental illness or drug addiction and they live in a dormitory style setting but our men programs of that has an SRO program on top of that ” says Hickerson.
When Erika Hickerson decided to give back, she said, “I appreciate that I can be useful in a small way for an organization that is providing service and opportunity in a very big way,” she said.
One of the questions that asked to Erika Hickerson was : “What has inspired you to help out the Homeless in the streets”?
Hickerson goes on to say, “I’m not originally from Philly. I moved here from Connecticut which we don’t have homeless population and I applied to Project H.O.M.E not knowing what I would get myself into, so my first experience here was a temporary rest area where we had code blue, in a way it was good for because you get so attached to the individual and there stories and you just want to help them.” Seeing those was a motivation for her to want to he out more. What motivated her is to give the men hope”.
When Hickerson is not at the office, she is out in the street picking up homeless , and giving them a home.
Hickerson Continues to say, that there is many things that goes on to help the homeless. At the particular home she is in, homeless men comes into the apartment to live after staffs at Project H.O.M.E help them apply for it. One particular person, at the location really showed how much the organization has helped him come back to his feet.
James L., said “it [Project H.O.M.E] did a lot for me, it helped me from get back up from the streets.” It gave me a place to live and a sense of direction, a sense of well being, a sense of being worthy of, and that’s what Project home has done for me.”