Mayor Nutter yesterday announced new weapons in the fight against homelessness, including additional beds for the ill or addicted and the earmarking of hundreds of public-housing units for the homeless.
"We have to build this city," Nutter told the crowd assembled in Dilworth Plaza for the announcement. "We have souls and lives to save."
Nutter said that, as of last week, 389 people were sleeping on the streets in Philadelphia. And roughly 6,600 were in emergency or transitional housing.
Nutter called the new plan a "first step." The new priorities include:
* Creating 75 new beds for chronically homeless people with behavioral or substance-abuse problems.
* Continuing operation of two overnight cafes - drop-in centers that provide food and help during the winter - throughout the summer.
* Providing 125 subsidized-housing units for people who are chronically homeless and need extra support.
* Having the Philadelphia Housing Authority make available 500 existing housing units for people who are in transitional housing and need permanent homes.
"We're here today collectively to say, first and foremost, we can do better," Nutter said.
Nutter did not put a price tag on the initiatives. The deputy mayor for health and opportunity, Don Schwartz, said that the cost could be in the millions but that the city has made money available.
Longtime homeless advocate Sister Mary Scullion, of Project HOME, said Nutter was making an important step in the right direction.
"The more that we can develop housing units, the better," she said. *