Pathways celebrates 15 years of impact

Valerie Johnson
participant smiling with hands open at our annual cookout
Celebrating 15 Years with Pathways logo and graphic fireworks

Pathways to Housing PA officially launched on September 1, 2008 – 15 years ago this month. Known for the innovative Housing First model, Pathways has grown significantly since launching, now housing and serving more than 600 individuals experiencing homelessness and furnishing 1,400 homes annually through the Philadelphia Furniture Bank. 

As a well-respected agency known for thinking outside the box when creating programming that ends people's homelessness, the City of Philadelphia engaged Pathways to bring its evidence-based Housing First model to Philadelphia to help end chronic homelessness in 2008. Using the Housing First model, Pathways has an unprecedented 85% housing retention rate; these same participants would be considered not housing ready in other programs. 

As an alternative to emergency shelter and transitional housing, Pathways’ Housing First model is simple: provide housing without preconditions, and then address underlying issues around mental health, substance use, medical care, and education to welcome people back into the community. Once considered radical for turning the traditional housing system upside down, the Housing First model is now a nationally recognized, evidence-based best practice. 

Because Pathways was founded on innovation, growth over the last 15 years has centered on creative ways to ensure the participant population’s needs are met. An early discovery was that many Pathways participants have serious, chronic, and untreated medical issues that were neglected for years and required significant healthcare coordination. This led to the founding of the Integrated Care Clinic, a partnership between Thomas Jefferson University and Project Home’s Stephen Klein Wellness Center. The Clinic launched in 2015 to ensure participants have access to a person-centered approach that emphasizes recovery, wellness, trauma-informed care, and the integration of physical and behavioral health care. 

The clinic further expanded in 2017 upon receiving a grant to open a Center of Excellence (COE) in Opioid Use Disorder in partnership with Project Home and Prevention Point Philadelphia. Today, the COE maintains medication for opioid use disorder, recovery support services, and benefits coordination to 268 participants with opioid use disorder. 

In late 2014, Pathways opened the Philadelphia Furniture Bank as a centralized resource for furniture for human service organizations from across Philadelphia. Member agencies schedule appointments for clients who then choose their furniture to start fresh as they move out of homelessness. Each individual or family receives a full home’s worth of furniture, including brand new bedding. The Philadelphia Furniture Bank has furnished more than 7,300 homes since 2014. 

In 2022, Pathways launched their first social enterprise, Good Haul. This junk hauling service works in tandem with the Philadelphia Furniture Bank, ensuring that useable furniture items are delivered to PFB. Other useable household items are sent to our partner nonprofits like Circle Thrift and Habitat for Humanity's ReStore, technology and other recyclable items are recycled, metal is scrapped, and the number of items that end up in a landfill are minimized to the best of the team’s ability. Revenue from Good Haul is reinvested in the Philadelphia Furniture Bank. 

One key aspect of recovery is finding purpose. Pathways launched a Work First supportive employment program at the Philadelphia Furniture Bank to support those who are re-entering the work force by providing work first, and supports to ensure they are able to find stability. Work First currently employs up to 15 staff supporting both PFB and Good Haul. 

In fall 2019, Pathways launched Housing First University (HFU) to disseminate the comprehensive and inclusive solution to ending homelessness beyond the community in Philadelphia, in hopes of reaching other cities and countries struggling with the same issues. Housing First University builds on the expertise gathered by professionals who use this model every day in their roles at Pathways to Housing PA. HFU works with our clients to tailor solutions that are responsive to their unique needs across three service offerings: training, technical assistance, and consulting. 

The Alumni Association was launched in 2021 to support participants who are capable of and interested in living more independently, who have outgrown the level of care provided by Pathways. Housing First does not always translate into housing forever, and Pathways works to ensure that participants are able to achieve their independent living goals - whatever those goals may be. It’s hard to believe it’s been fifteen years since Pathways first opened its doors. 

Founder and President & CEO Christine Simiriglia states “We are grateful to our supporters, partners and funders for having faith in Pathways and allowing us to expand services and innovate as needed to meet the growing and changing needs of people who are homeless and have disabilities. That ability to change is what makes every day at Pathways seem fresh and new for me. I almost can’t believe it’s been 15 years. Here’s to the next 15!” 


About Pathways to Housing PA Since 2008, Pathways to Housing PA has provided housing and comprehensive wrap-around services following the evidence-based Housing First model in Philadelphia to help end chronic homelessness. Pathways currently houses more than 550 individuals in regular apartments across the community, with an unprecedented 85% housing retention rate. These same participants would be considered not housing ready in other programs. 

Media Contact 

Valerie Johnson, VP of Advancement and Special Projects