A five-year journey has finally come to an end for Mary Ellen Graham, adjunct faculty in the writing program. While this may be an end for her, it’s the beginning for 12 former homeless men who now have a new place to call home thanks to the efforts by Graham.
Graham embarked on a grassroots effort to create a model for permanent supportive housing five years ago. Her vision began with a need and a response and created myplacegermantown.org, a not-for-profit organization.
“Eventually, the city and federal governments and our partners, a developer named Community Ventures, joined with My Place Germantown.org to bring a new model--new for Philly--to fruition,” Graham said.
The organization completely renovated a three-story building in Germantown and created efficiency apartments for 12 men, including two wheel chair dependent and one for the visually or hearing impaired.
“This was an initiative I began separate from my teaching responsibilities well over five years ago, and has finally come to fruition,” Graham said. “Dr. Steve Metreaux (interim program director and associate professor for health policy and public health as well as expert in homelessness) has been aware of the initiative and one of its cheerleaders. He and I joined together last year to do two sessions on homelessness inspired by Steve Lopez's book ‘The Soloist.’ Dr. Roy Robson (professor of history) has also been an enthusiast.”
The well-attended, formal ribbon cutting was held on Nov. 17. In attendance were Philadelphia City Councilwoman Donna Reed Miller, Director of Housing and Community Development Deborah McColloch, and Director of Supportive Housing Dainette M. Mintz.
Though her contract with the city was fully execute, Graham is hard at work raising additional funds for the project.
“The ultimate goal this will be to export this integrated community project, to other parts of the city as a community model,” Graham said.