Philadelphia, December 19, 2006 - The Free Library of Philadelphia is proud to announce its partnership with Project H.O.M.E, a model program for the homeless that will enhance maintenance and monitoring of public bathrooms at the Central Library and direct homeless people in need of running water and sanitary facilities to a network of support services.
December 11th marked the first day of a six month pilot program in which Central Library restrooms will be staffed by Project H.O.M.E. residents. Staffers, formerly homeless themselves, will look for inappropriate use of bathroom facilities and do light sanitary maintenance.
"This is a great partnership, a creative solution to a difficult problem," said Sister Mary Scullion, Executive Director of Project H.O.M.E. "Right now there just aren't enough places for homeless people to go to get their basic needs met. The Library was very forward thinking, strategic and compassionate in helping us find a way to address a need and use it as an opportunity to create employment."
Some of Center City's homeless population gravitate toward public buildings, including the Central Library, to stay warm and use the restroom facilities to keep themselves clean. This use of restrooms poses a maintenance and possible safety concern to patrons.
"The Library is and always has been open to all, but at the same time cleanliness and maintenance at our facilities is a priority," said Elliot Shelkrot, President of the Free Library of Philadelphia. "I particularly want to thank our Library employees from District Council 33 who were so helpful with this initiative which will serve as a bridge to a better life for Project H.O.M.E residents."
The need for homeless to use public facilities has created challenges for libraries all over the country. The partnership between Project H.O.M.E and the Free Library of Philadelphia is a national model for sensitive and effective ways to address the issues of cleanliness and comfort for library patrons and for providing more positive outlets for the homeless to access the services they need.
Attendants will work Monday thru Friday 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. in the Men's Restroom and 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. in the Women's Restroom. They will work in conjunction with current security personnel at the library and also be a link to the Outreach Coordination Center at Project H.O.M.E. Candidates for positions will be trained in Library rules, regulations, and procedures. In addition, attendants will be provided with walkie-talkies to communicate with the appropriate Library personnel.
Attendants will be trained by a registered nurse in First Aid. They will also receive training in Homeless Outreach, including crisis management skills.
For Project H.O.M.E. residents who are employed, the Library and Project Home's hope is this experience will be a road to full time employment.
About Project H.O.M.E
The mission of the Project H.O.M.E. community 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 the broader society. We achieve this through the provision of a continuum of care comprised of street outreach; supportive housing; and comprehensive services including health care,
education, and employment. Project H.O.M.E. strives to create a stable and secure environment where we support each other in our struggles for self-esteem, recovery and the confidence to move toward self-actualization. The work of Project H.O.M.E. is rooted in our strong spiritual conviction of the dignity of each person.
About the Free Library
The Central Library is a technology-driven information resource located at the gateway to the city's cultural corridor-the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. With over 7 million books, periodicals, CDs, DVDs, as well as daily seminars, workshops, and other events, Central is a hub of community life and activity. Roughly 700,000 people use the Library for internet access-to look for jobs, check email, and surf the web. Small businesses have been started at the Central Library, immigrants read newspapers in their native language, children love story hours, and the popular author series is regularly oversubscribed.
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The Free Library of Philadelphia system consists of 49 branches, three regional libraries, the Central Library, and the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. With more than six million visits annually, the Free Library is one of the most widely-used educational and cultural institutions in Philadelphia.