The City of Philadelphia has much about which it can legitimately boast not the least of which, of course, is the gathering of that first United States Congress over two centuries ago. Another development for which the City of Friends can be rightly proud is a project begun just over two decades ago and now internationally recognized for its effectiveness and leadership: Project H.O.M.E
As its literature states , the mission of Project H.O.M.E is “to empower persons to break the cycle of homelessness and poverty, to address structural causes of poverty, and to enable all of us to attain our fullest potential as individuals and as members of a broader society. The work of Project H.O.M.E. is rooted in our strong spiritual conviction of the dignity of each person. It is believed that all persons are entitled to decent, affordable housing and access to quality education, employment and health care. The mission is achieved through the provision of a continuum of care comprised of street outreach; a range of supportive housing facilities, and comprehensive service including health care, education, and employment. Project H.O.M.E. also addresses the root causes of homelessness through neighborhood-based community revitalization programs, including affordable housing development, employment training and opportunities; adult and youth education; health care; and environmental enhancement.”
H.O.M.E. stands for “housing, opportunities for employment, medical care, and education.” The project is one of the many listed on the NCCF ‘Catalog of Ministries.’ Readers of this column who are looking for inspiration and signs of hope should visit Project H.O.M.E.’s website at www.projecthome.org .
Founded in 1989 by Joan Dawson McConnon and Sister Mary Scullion, RSM (Sisters of Mercy), the project and its many components are now hailed as a model for alleviating homelessness and poverty on a large scale. Bolstered by the firm belief in the “transformational power of building relationships and community as the ultimate answer to the degradation of homelessness and poverty” the trustees and staff of Project H.O.M.E. “address the root causes of homelessness through neighborhood-based affordable housing, economic development, and environmental enhancement programs, as well as through providing access to employment opportunities, adult and youth education and health care.”
One is reminded of the Little Sisters of the Poor, an Order now spread throughout the world, which began almost 200 years ago in France when Jeanne Jugan (now canonized) brought an elderly homeless woman to her own modest abode. Project H.O.M.E is a compelling example of this ‘strong spiritual conviction’ and its power and effectiveness in advancing the Kingdom.