South Philadelphia Community Fund is a new 'one-stop shop' for benefits - Generocity Philly

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Aug. 20, 2021 10:12 am

South Philadelphia Community Fund is a new ‘one-stop shop’ for benefits

Diversified Community Services and United Communities Southeast Philadelphia join forces to create a fund that offers direct assistance to low-income residents.

In this pre-pandemic photo, a community member meets with a counselor at Diversified Community Services.

(Courtesy photo)

Diversified Community Services (DCS) and United Communities Southeast Philadelphia have partnered to establish a new anti-poverty resource for residents of South Philadelphia.

DCS and United Communities are providing a one-stop-shop for benefits to help families. The South Philadelphia Community Fund will serve clients in person and online providing access to benefits from housing counseling to expungement and pardon services throughout 2021.

Francis Carney. (Courtesy)

“The fund encompasses services to help reduce poverty through public benefits access and application assistance, free tax and legal services, housing counseling, and $50,000 of direct client assistance for rent, mortgage, and utility payments,” said Francis Carney, executive director of United Communities.

It was created with a grant to DCS from the City of Philadelphia and United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey‘s Poverty Action Fund, to help assist more people struggling with poverty and the repercussions of the pandemic. The grant was focused on scaling the efforts to immigrants and others who need access to social services and/or financial resources, and so the goal of the South Philadelphia Community Fund is to partner with other community-based organizations to expand services on the east and west side of Broad Street in South Philadelphia.

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“United Communities serves as a managing partner along with Diversified Community Services to ensure that the goals established to connect with and provide access to benefits and resources to residents of South Philadelphia are reached,” Carney said.

Both nonprofits have long histories of service in South Philadelphia.

DCS is a deeply embedded neighborhood-based nonprofit agency serving nearly 8,000 children, youth, adults, and families in the Point Breeze area. In the fall of 2015, Diversified introduced the Point Breeze Community to the Two Generation Strategy, an approach that addressed the short-term impact of family financial stability through workforce training and the long-term impact of quality early childcare education on family self-sufficiency.

Otis Bullock. (Courtesy)

“As one of the oldest social services agencies supporting low-income families in Philadelphia, we know all too well that research shows that family economic circumstances require five generations to reverse,” said Otis Bullock, executive director of DCS. “Our strategy simultaneously supports two generations by providing parents the resources to build financially stable households and help their children to be better learners.”

United Communities is the result of several mergers of existing settlement houses. The oldest of these settlement houses dates back to 1847 when the Philadelphia Society for the Employment and Instruction of the Poor built the House of Industry west of 7th on Catharine Street.

This location served as a shelter, mostly for immigrants from the British Isles, who would work making shoes, clothing, rugs, baskets, and brushes in exchange for food and shelter. As Italian immigrants replaced the English-speaking immigrants in the neighborhood, the need moved from shelter to English language and citizenship classes.

Now United Communities Southeast Philadelphia offers educational opportunities and helps meet the basic needs of children and families in an increasingly diverse and multicultural community.

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For more information on the South Philadelphia Community Fund, its partners and how to request services, visit http://dcsphila.org/communityfund/index.html.

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