In 1985 a young nun called Sister Mary Scullion founded Women of Hope in downtown Philadelphia— the first homeless shelter in the United States to accept all women irrespective of mental illness, race, religion, addiction, incarceration history or sexuality. Sister Mary envisioned a more compassionate, tolerant, and supportive model of help that involved stabilizing peoples living conditions by immediately placing people in temporary housing to remove them from the daily hardship on the streets. This housing first model—called Project HOME—proved to be 86% more successful in ending long-term homelessness than any other program in the Nation; additionally, the program proved that homeless people suffering from chronic mental illness could be helped in ending their homelessness.

women on hope


In 2015 the Project HOME model has been adopted by homeless services all over the country and still remains the most effective way of treating homeless people who suffer from substance addiction and long-term mental illness. The Women of Hope are still operating in Philadelphia under the guard of Sister Mary and Catholic Social Services. Two of the agencies in Los Angeles that are carrying the housing first model is Lamp Community and PATH (People Assisting the Homeless). This photo essay documents the shared transition of three women out of homelessness into Government Supported Living in Los Angeles County.

women on floor


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