MAYOR

Philadelphia Piloting New Homeless Outreach Program in Center City

Philadelphia will launch a new homeless outreach pilot program in Center City on Monday aimed at helping an increasing number of people in need of a home, city behavioral health officials say.

A team of six uniformed outreach staff will be focusing on four Center City locations identified as homeless hotspots. The outreach workers have advanced training in mental health and drug support services, a spokesman for the city's department of behavioral health and disability services said Friday.

City officials would not name the four hotspots ahead of Monday's formal announcement, but one of the speakers is a project manager for vendors at Suburban Station, a common congregation spot for homeless individuals.

The program is expected to continue through the summer and would be extended if it's proven successful in helping get people into supportive housing, officials said.

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The program announcement comes months after city officials touted they ended homelessness among veterans. The U.S. Department for Housing and Urban Development has seen homelessness overall decrease over recent years, but there's been a rise in Philadelphia from 2014 to 2015.

Youth homelessness continues to be a pressing issue in the city. Hundreds of young people are left to fend for themselves on the streets or in temporary shelters, an NBC10 probe into the issue found.

Faces of Homeless Youth, the award-winning investigation, showcased a particularly vulnerable group of young people, aged 18 to 24, who find it tough accessing services.

Philadelphia City Council held a hearing on youth homelessness last month to gather information ahead of announcing steps to address the problem.

Monday's event will feature the mayor, the chiefs of supportive housing and behavioral health, the housing authority CEO and members of city council.

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