On the heels of the displacement of nearly 80 homeless people with addiction on Philly’s Conrail tracks at Gurney Street in Fairhill, 30 new addiction recovery housing beds are set to open in West Philly on Monday.
Rev. Dr. Michelle Simmons, the founder of the women’s recovery housing nonprofit Why Not Prosper, will expand her outreach to two new buildings at 60th and Catharine streets.
Simmons plans to host a grand opening for the facility on Monday morning, when she’ll move eight women into the residences who were recently released from Riverside Correctional Facility, Montgomery County Correctional Facility and the Kirkbride Center, a behavioral health hospital in West Philadelphia.
“We’re working on filling it up, but [they] are the [women] that we already have,” Simmons said. “They’re mostly drug- and alcohol-related offenses, also some mental health and prostitution.”
Why Not Prosper already operates three recovery residences with a total of 25 beds in Germantown. The units are certified by the Pennsylvania Alliance of Recovery Residences, meaning they’re held to specific standards for accountability to ensure residents’ safe recovery from addiction.
Fred Way, PARR’s executive director, said Simmons already has the new residences properly zoned for transitional living. Once she officially opens next week, he will inspect them for PARR certification.
“It’s just a matter of us going out there and making sure everything is right,” Way said. “Her other houses are already certified. She already knows what it entails, so I don’t see why there would be a problem.”
“It’s going to be the same model that we have in Germantown now, just in a new location,” Simmons added. “This is transitional living. It’s going to be able to be a therapeutic environment, a trauma-informed center.”
After moving in, Simmons said each new resident will be assigned a case manager and a therapist. Why Not Prosper partners with several city organizations to provide services for its residents: Philadelphia Fight and the city’s Department of Human Services to get outpatient treatment, PA CareerLink and the Metropolitan Career Center to secure employment and Wells Fargo to help the women open up their own bank accounts.
“If anybody wants to volunteer or donate to the new facility, if someone knows how to cook, crochet or just give a check,” Simmons said, “this is a community house and it takes a village to get these ladies acclimated back into society.”
“This is an excellent program,” Way said. “She does it right. She’s in that select group that does it right and doesn’t try to cut corners.”
Why Not Prosper’s new residences are funded in part by a loan from PIDC Philadelphia, an economic development corporation that helps Philly nonprofits expand. Residents will also be required to pay $400 per month to live at the house.
“With that, we’re well on our way,” she said.