Mayor Nutter yesterday praised a joint effort by the city and the Philadelphia Housing Authority to fight homelessness, noting that the homeless population has dropped by 4.4 percent since last year.

"This is a remarkable achievement, given that the global economy has collapsed," Nutter said.

Last year, PHA and the city teamed up to increase the housing and services available to the homeless, providing an additional 700 housing units and beds. The $8.3 million plan was funded through state and federal tax dollars.

"Hundreds of formerly homeless people in the city are now living in safe, permanent housing," Nutter said.

The number of homeless people either living on city streets or in shelters has declined this year compared with this time in 2008. There were 2,958 homeless people in May 2009, down from 3,095 in May 2008.

But the street population in Center City has risen this year. There were 392 homeless people on Center City streets this May, compared with 261 last year.

Nutter yesterday announced that PHA would provide an additional 500 housing options this year. And the city has been awarded a $21.4 million federal grant for homeless prevention as part of the economic-stimulus package. Those funds will largely be used for programs to help prevent people from losing their homes. *