Philadelphia officials are trying a new approach to aggressive panhandling and interacting with people experiencing homelessness in general.
The first is a new pilot program known as “same-day pay” that is designed to offer people an alternative to panhandling, through a partnership with the Mural Arts Program.
According to Eva Gladstein, the city’s deputy managing director of Health and Human Services, individuals looking for work can assist with mural painting through a lottery program. If they receive a call that there’s a job available, they work for half the day and receive a paycheck. People can also be connected to city services, such as signing up for a city ID card.
She said since participants get their pay before leaving at the end of the day, people who are experiencing homeless may be more likely to give it a try. The city also hopes to recruit private businesses to join the pilot project.
Mike Hinson of the organization SELF Inc. helps connect the city’s homeless population to housing and also offers mentorship.
He said the number of people without a permanent job or place to stay in Philadelphia fluctuates daily.
“It is a very complex issue that is in part fueled by some of the opioid issues that we are having in our local communities,” he said.
Carol Thomas, the director of homeless services for Project HOME, said the homeless population has more opportunities than ever in Philly to find a home.
“We have had more success having more people come in and stay in,” Thomas said. “We also have the circumstances that people migrate to Philly because we have great stuff going on.”
A second program, expected by the fall, would allow people to contribute money via text message to assist people experiencing homelessness, instead of giving money to people on the street.