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By Shannon Frost Greenstein

Today marks the opening of a substantial homeless outreach and service center, deemed Hub of Hope, which is located underground at the Suburban Station train concourse.

The facility is over 11,000 sq. feet, more than 10 times the size of the current Hub of Hope, and will double the number of individuals served inside its doors.  The service center is a joint venture between SEPTA and Project HOME, and while it will not offer beds or a place to sleep, it will provide coffee, showers, and laundry services every day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.  On the weekends, it will also serve free meals to the city’s homeless population.

“Instead of building fences and criminalizing homelessness, SEPTA and the city decided to repurpose a space to serve the men and women that are homeless,” said Sister Mary Scullion, founder and president of Project HOME.

There will be a focus on mental health services, based on research that trauma-informed care and behavioral health care are vital to bring individuals out of poverty.  Outreach teams will also be active throughout the city, to combat the stigma that can keep people in need from visiting the center initially.

Mayor Jim Kenney emphasized that homelessness is a social issue and not a criminal one.  During opening ceremonies yesterday, he stressed that this issue is not one of law enforcement, saying, ““We are not going to arrest people for being homeless.”

The $1.4 million construction costs were split between the city of Philadelphia and SEPTA. Additional funding for furnishings, such as the washers and dryers for laundry were the result of donations from private donors, such as the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation.  Bon Jovi attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday, commenting, “…(I) realized years ago, [this issue] didn’t need a scientist to find a cure. It was going to take hard-earned dollars, sweat equity and the expertise of people like Sister Mary.”

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