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Offering Hope to the Homeless with Hub of Hope

In conjunction with Project HOME, the City of Philadelphia and SEPTA, CICADA completed work on the Hub of Hope project, which was unveiled in January 2018. A homeless engagement center located in a sub-concourse under the Municipal Services Building in Philadelphia, this is an endeavor that reaches out to the homeless where they gather, offering basic creature comforts and an opportunity for needed social service interventions. CICADA has worked with these organizations to transform a forlorn, underground concourse into a bright and stylish multi-room facility with a waiting room / lounge, counseling rooms, event room, showers and a laundry room. As many as 300 people come in each day to have coffee, take a shower, do laundry and, ideally, learn about their options for social, medical and housing services. People are welcomed in by bright and cheerful spaces, caring people and a sense of community.

Helping the homeless get off the streets is a relentless wheel of a challenge that unfortunately never seems to stop turning, especially in bigger cities like Philadelphia. Martin Luther King, Jr., perfectly framed the problem when he said, “It’s a cruel jest to say to a bootless man that he ought to lift himself by his own bootstraps.” The stark reality of the “bootless man” these days is that large percentages of the homeless are veterans, children with their parents, and even unaccompanied children and youth. But while the cycle of homelessness churns on, organizations like Project HOME, Women Against Abuse, Family and Community Service of Delaware County, the City of Philadelphia and even SEPTA, are working to make a difference.

Since its founding in 1995, CICADA Architecture / Planning, Inc. has worked with community development groups to complete dozens of projects that house and help the homeless. This work is a perfect expression of CICADA’s belief that good design should be available to all, especially to marginalized people struggling with homelessness and the challenges that landed them there. In more than two decades of working on these types of projects, CICADA’s architects have seen homeless solutions evolve from crowding people into very institutional (and often depressing) shelters, to developing contemporary housing and other services that restore dignity, safety, security and capitalize on the potential in every person.