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Philadelphia Boosts Aid For Homeless During Democratic Convention


Philadelphia, host of the Democratic National Convention, spent part of its budget for that event on getting homeless people off the streets. The money paid for more outreach workers and shelter beds, at least temporarily. From member station WHYY in Philadelphia, Aaron Moselle reports.

AARON MOSELLE, BYLINE: Focusing on the week before and the week of the convention, Philadelphia spent more than $60,000 on 110 beds in addition to the several thousand that already exist. Another $25,000 supported 17 additional outreach workers during the same span. For Joseph DeCosmo, those line items were priceless. Last week, he was living on the streets for the first time since losing his job at a pizza place. Now he's in a shelter after spotting outreach workers one night.

JOSEPH DECOSMO: I was like, let me grab one of them right away. It was like an angel in disguise (laughter).

MOSELLE: Liz Hersh runs the city's Office of Homeless Services.

LIZ HERSH: In the first 10 days, they made over a thousand contacts with people on the street and were able to get about 15 percent of those into some kind of placement.

MOSELLE: Sister Mary Scullion runs Project HOME. She's grateful the city provided additional resources. But now what?

MARY SCULLION: I know Project HOME, you know, hopefully will be able to find a way for people to take those next steps forward, but I don't know that every other organization will have all the tools and resources they need.

MOSELLE: In 2015, the city counted more than 6,000 homeless people. Roughly 700 of them sleep on the streets each night. For NPR News, I'm Aaron Moselle in Philadelphia. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Aaron Moselle