Philadelphia 2023 Homeless & Transitional Housing summaries
Broad Street Ministry
Rayce Newswanger, Drexel University College of Medicine
John Sauerland, Drexel University College of Medicine
Annette B. Gadegbeku, MD, Drexel University College of Medicine
Nikki Brown, MSW, Broad Street Ministry
Geremi James, LSW, MSW, Broad Street Ministry
Broad Street Ministry is an organization in Philadelphia that employs a practice of radical hospitality in its approach to offering services, including its meal program, kitchen takeover series, mail and ID service, concierge program (case management), reentry services, personal care and hygiene truck, and the Broad Street Ministry Boutique. Radical hospitality is a means of creating a welcoming community and communicating dignity by treating each person walking through the doors as a host would treat a guest at home. Moreover, staff and volunteers here emphasize trauma-aware and person-centered care.
The Bridging the Gaps student interns rotated through several of the services offered at Broad Street Ministry and performed various research and outreach activities. The interns worked primarily as concierges (case management officers) and assisted with the mail and ID procurement service. Through the concierge program, interns helped guests obtain identity documents, fill out welfare applications, access documents, navigate and advocate for shelter and housing, find employment, access healthcare, obtain a mailing address, obtain a path to citizenship for migrant families, and more. These resources and services were delivered in a person-centered, trauma-aware manner to best support Broad Street Ministry guests.
Rayce Newswanger: “My goal is to humanize, destigmatize, and be an advocate for the population that Broad Street Ministry serves. With one of my main interests being emergency medicine, I know that I will continue to interact with this population because their health is drastically affected by their situations and lack of access to maintenance healthcare, which leads to more life-threatening complications. Sometimes it’s also the only place they may feel they can turn. Unfortunately, many times healthcare workers dismiss a lot of their complaints due to bias and stigma. I want to change the culture wherever I work in the future by informing my colleagues of the insight I have gained by working directly with this population. Many do not understand how hard it is to succeed in the situations that many of our guests are in. Many think that they are there by choice, but do not know a single thing about their life or story. We need to as a society stop treating this population as the ‘other’ and start treating them as we would our family if they were homeless or experiencing substance use disorders. They are trying to better their lives, but due to the system they need the help of others to get back on their feet.”
John Sauerland: “On my first day at Broad Street Ministry, I noticed several things that made this organization stand out from others. I was impressed by how this site had so many services under one roof, how all of the staff are committed to delivering services consistent with the mission of radical hospitality, and how the organization is well-run. Much of this speaks to the people who work and volunteer at Broad Street Ministry. While I am sure that many organizations have a goal of being welcoming and respectful, the staff at Broad Street Ministry takes this to heart and makes sure that every guest is treated with dignity and integrity. It is unfortunate that outside of this organization guests, who are a marginalized group of individuals experiencing deep poverty and homelessness, are often not treated with respect in other places. In many cases, they are sometimes treated as less than human. It is so important to treat guests (or anyone for that matter) with dignity and respect. How guests are treated determines whether they will return to seek services and makes a profound impact on their quality of life. Having staff that is committed to the mission and not ‘going through the motions’ for a paycheck allows the mission to be fulfilled and, in turn, makes for a tremendous guest experience that should be replicated elsewhere.”
Covenant House Pennsylvania
Reaching Teens: Adolescent Health and Life in a Shelter Context (click to view poster)
Ashlan Willett, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine
Hillary R. Bogner, MD, MSCE, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine
Christopher B. Renjilian, MD, MBE, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine
David Maddox, MSW, Covenant House Pennsylvania
Covenant House Pennsylvania is an emergency shelter crisis center open 24/7 in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia. It provides local adolescents aged 18 to 21 with free housing, food, clothing, career and vocational training, enrichment activities, mental healthcare, and medical care at the CHOP Connections Clinic. Youth often come in having experienced the foster care system, housing instability, human trafficking, and incarceration. The organization seeks to meet youth where they are, providing them immediately with services, a sanctuary from the street, structured days, and life-enhancing values grounded in trust, honesty, respect, and love. Staff at Covenant House work to recognize and acknowledge the strengths these youth already possess. This crucial step moves beyond assumptions about youth, based on their behavior, to see them as they deserve to be seen, an approach that empowers the youth to seek success in the face of challenges.
The Bridging the Gaps student intern engaged in both clinical coordination and community engagement. In the clinic, the intern prepared daily clinic schedules, completed intake and follow-up visits under the preceptorship of adolescent medicine physicians, shadowed the psychiatrist on staff, connected youth with lab testing and outside clinical care, and ensured that the general medical needs of residents were met. Outside the clinic, the intern liaised with staff members around health needs, ran a relaxing and calming tools workshop, and attended enrichment activities. Further, a conversation with a non-binary youth advisor allowed the intern to provide the community preceptor with a description of how gender diversity was experienced at the shelter.
Ashlan Willett: “This summer, I have begun learning a skill set and philosophy at Covenant House Pennsylvania that I believe applies both within and beyond the clinic. This strength-based skill set will allow me to better carry my present self throughout my life, to more deeply attend to all aspects of social encounters, and to recognize my limits as a human being exposed to others’ suffering. I have seen how thoughtful use of this skill set can create space for youth to discuss urgent yet sensitive health issues, and I have learned to better cope with the emotional consequences from this important work. The experience motivates me to engage more deeply with community health and to hone skill sets that will allow me to not only unpack human experience more deeply, but to structure my career around the gray areas of human experience.”
Homelessness Has No Place (click to view poster)
Brianna Cattelino, Drexel University College of Medicine
Colin Moran, Drexel University College of Medicine
Steven Peitzman, MD, FACP, Drexel University College of Medicine
Brendan Sculley, MSW, Depaul USA
Depaul USA, Philadelphia, opened in April 2009 and manages six programs, including a social enterprise that provides employment for previously housing-insecure individuals, transitional housing for young adults in the foster care system, long-term housing for disabled individuals, supportive housing for college students, and a six-month live-in recovery program. Depaul provides extensive services including housing, financial assistance, case management, and employment assistance. The organization strives to cultivate support networks for residents so that they can meet their individual goals of quality of life and stability.
The Bridging the Gaps student interns worked at three sites run by Depaul USA, Philadelphia: Depaul House, St. Raymond’s, and St. Joseph’s. Depaul House focuses on men in recovery, St. Raymond’s provides long-term housing to individuals who were previously unhoused, and St. Joseph’s provides housing for college students experiencing housing insecurity. Due to the unique needs of each site, the interns surveyed the needs of each location separately before scheduling programs. The interns provided one-on-one assistance with résumé-building and job-seeking skills for residents in the Depaul House recovery program. They helped residents at St. Raymond’s apply for housing and disability services, led conversations about smoking cessation and general health, and assisted with scheduling medical appointments. At St. Joseph’s, the interns focused on practical life skills, such as mapping out educational goals and milestones and career planning. They also encouraged residents to join in gardening and, at St. Raymond’s, in landscaping the front courtyard The interns also supported Depaul House administration with planning the fall fundraiser and research to support a new medical respite program proposal.
Brianna Cattelino: “This internship has provided a no-frills look at the intersection of homelessness, mental health, substance use, and recovery. It seems almost obvious to say, but throughout the summer I have seen how there really is no single path to homelessness or addiction. Additionally, there are innumerable aspects of our society that make those experiences harder to work through. Navigating social services, affordable housing, managing healthcare, etc. feels like an uphill battle most of the time. In getting to know residents at each of the houses, I have also begun to think about my role as a medical provider in a new light, especially when taking care of individuals experiencing homelessness, housing insecurity, or in recovery. I have seen how difficult continuity of care can be for these populations and witnessed the confusion that can arise while trying to interpret medical instructions. I think this is one of the most valuable insights from this summer, and I hope to use this knowledge to make me a more aware, intentional, and considerate physician in the future.”
Colin Moran: “This experience will benefit me professionally in many different ways. At the most basic level I now have a better understanding of the logistics of homeless services and how to navigate the infrastructure of available resources. While this undoubtedly will be very helpful knowledge to have in the future, I feel that my time spent getting to know the residents of these great communities will be where the real benefits lie. Building trust with the residents and hearing their stories has grown my sense of empathy, and I look forward to continuing to work with similar populations in the future.”
Red Shield Family Residence at Salvation Army
Fostering Connection and Relationships with Youth at the Red Shield Family Residence (click to view poster)
Sheba Daniel, Temple University, School of Social Work – College of Public Health
Allison Stern, Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University
Ingrid Mapanao, MSW, MPH, Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University
Brian Work, MD, MPH, Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University
Jerome Wright, Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University
Katie Barnhart, MSW, Assistant Director, Red Shield Family Residence
Deanna Handy, Youth Services Coordinator, Red Shield Family Residence, The Salvation Army Greater Philadelphia
The Red Shield Family Residence at Salvation Army is a safe and welcoming emergency housing program that offers supportive services to equip families with the necessary tools to achieve
self-sufficiency, including weekly case management and child-centered resources. This institution welcomes individuals regardless of race, color, national origin, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), disability, or age. The institution primarily serves mothers with young children, but all parents and children are welcome.
The Bridging the Gaps student interns worked on a project that addressed cardiovascular health, focusing on the impact of stress on the human body. They spent time with the residents discussing how crucial the early years of a child’s life are, influencing physical health, social interactions, and emotional growth. They examined how stress affects children holistically and how life transitions such as homelessness can be a risk factor for long-term stress and anxiety. The interns created a presentation that included information on heart-healthy habits, stress management techniques, healthy food options, the benefits of art and journaling, and the importance of physical activity, with the goal of helping the kids develop heart-healthy habits they could incorporate into their daily lives. The interns also participated in various field trips and programs that centered around stress management, including crafting sessions, physical recreation, and a smoothie-making workshop. All the activities reinforced the primary objective and helped deliver the message more effectively.
Sheba Daniel and Allison Stern: “In our work with children and teens at Red Shield Family Residence, we learned about the complex dynamics of housing insecurity. Despite challenging circumstances, every kid embodied a spirit of resilience and optimism. There is a lot we could learn from their uncanny ability to turn any situation into a time for joy and playfulness. However, we also know that resilience is not a stand-in for the support these children need. Within the framework of this program, we were able to create an environment with a dual purpose for the young residents. One aspect served to foster the simple joys of being kids, while the other emphasized the importance of expressing emotions, navigating anxieties, and reaffirming self-worth. These kids did not just give us a chance to teach — they gave us a chance to learn, and we will use these lessons to guide our approach to patient care and social support.”