Monday, December 29, 2008

A Dire Situation

On Saturday there was an article on the front page of the Inquirer about Travelers Aid. This is a social service organization, whose board I sit on, that provides housing and support for homeless families in Philadelphia, and that (until recently) has provided services for assisting stranded travelers.

In the city's recent budget cuts, Travelers Aid's entire budget for stranded traveler services was eliminated, leaving no help for this population. What does this mean? In short, there will be literally thousands of people added to Philadelphia's street homeless next year.

- There are over 10,000 people who become stranded in Philadelphia each year

- Over 3,000 people contact Travelers Aid Philadelphia (TAP) for assistance each year; of these, 40% (1,200 persons) are stranded in Philadelphia and are seeking to leave Philadelphia; 60% are residents of the City seeking shelter here.

- TAP provides crisis case management, temporary shelter, food, and transportation assistance (which is usually needed for only a few days) to these 1200 stranded travelers each year.

- From July 1, 2008 through November 30, 2008 we have been contacted by 1,385 persons asking for assistance.

- Beginning November 11, 2008 we stopped providing transportation, food, and shelter to everyone except stranded families. By December 15, 2008 all of our services ended.

- For the past 30 years, Travelers Aid has had contracts with the City of Philadelphia for assisting stranded travelers.

- Travelers Aid can help stranded travelers for less than $200 per person. That is much less than the cost to the City in dollars to have them on the streets.

You can find more information online here. If you are looking to make a last-minute, end-of-year charitable donation to help those in need, please donate to Travelers Aid here.

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