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Philadelphia’s downtown is home to shoppers, commuters, skateboarders, dog-walkers, tourists, students and people without homes, people who panhandle for a living, people struggling with addiction and mental illness. We all co-exist and we are all looking for the same things: safety, security and opportunity. En Español

Here are some tips for peaceful coexistence.


Philadelphia has a high rate of poverty and unemployment that has resulted in many people experiencing homelessness. You can do a few small things to help.

  • Call Homeless Outreach: 215-232-1984
  • Offer a meal or conversation. It can be a lifeline to hope.
  • Buy One Step Away, the homeless newspaper.
  • Get involved in local solutions.


Sometimes you may see someone on the streets who is experiencing mental health and/or substance use problems. There are trained clinicians on call 24/7 who can triage the situation and send help.

  • If you see someone on the street needing help for mental health and/or addiction related challenges, call the 24/7 Mental Health Crisis Line: 215-685-6440.
  • If the person is in immediate danger to self or others, call 9-1-1 and ask for a C.I.T. Officer.
  • Get trained in Mental Health First Aid. Go to or call for a C.I.T. (Crisis Intervention Team) trained police officer.


Panhandling is asking for or begging for money. Homeless and poverty advocates advise that you do not give panhandlers money because it doesn’t ultimately get them the help they need. Here are some things you can do instead.

  • Offer to buy the person a meal rather than giving money.
  • If you feel threatened, don’t argue. Move away quickly and call 9-1-1

En Español