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Five Decades of Service to Families and Youth Experiencing Homelessness And West Philadelphia Neighborhoods:
People’s Emergency Center Recognized for 50 years of Putting People First by City Council

 (October 31, 2022 – Philadelphia) People’s Emergency Center (PEC) was recognized on October 20, 2022 by City Council resolution for 50 years of service to families and youth experiencing homelessness. The resolution was proposed and read into record by Third District Councilmember Jamie Gauthier.

PEC was founded in 1972 in West Philadelphia to nurture families, strengthen neighborhoods and drive change. PEC offers more than 235 affordable housing units, job training, parenting and early childhood education, financial education and planning, life skills and technology classes for families, children, and youth experiencing homelessness. PEC and its affiliates (PEC Community Development Corporation and Youth Service, Inc.) uplift our community by providing housing, social services, and quality of life supports that empower people, and promote more prosperous neighborhoods for all. Together they provide services that benefit 25,000 people annually across Philadelphia.

PEC’s impact includes:

• 2 M + safe nights for 20,000 parents, youth and children housed at PEC, while they built skills essential to thrive.
• $1.5 M in financial assistance that helped families secure or keep a home.
• 3 M+ healthy meals for families, youth, and children.
• 235,000 hours of teaching computer skills for new learners.
• 40,000 books for children to build their own libraries at home.
• $65 M contributed to West Philadelphia's built environment.

The half century milestone will be celebrated with a sold out gala-style event at the Penn Museum, one of the agency’s arts and culture program partners, on November 3. PEC will honor four members of its community for their achievements at the event, which is expected to draw more than 200 guests.
Award recipients are:

• Diane Mapp, Rowan Rise Award: Diane and her children were residents of PEC, who overcame seemingly insurmountable barriers with the help of PEC’s programming, staff and housing opportunities. Diane participated in every program available to create a stable and bright future for her family. Today, Diane “pays it forward” in service to others, recently launching a non-profit to help young Black women build career and life skills to thrive in school and beyond. Her award will be presented by Stephen Briggs, Vice President of Community Relations at Wells Fargo. The award is named in honor of Rena Rowan-Damone, co-founder of the Jones New York fashion line and major supporter of PEC.

• Destiny Jackson, Levine Youth Legacy Award: Destiny grew up in and out of foster care and came to YSI’s shelter, Youth Emergency Services (YES), seeking support and safety. She sought out supportive services, reengaged in school and with the help from staff and partners, she was accepted to over 50 Colleges and Universities! Today she is proudly pursuing a double degree in Political Science (pre-law) and Communications. Her award will be presented by a representative from Independence Blue Cross. Ted Levine, longtime executive director of YSI, is the namesake for this award.

• Joe Willard, Mission Excellence Award: As PEC’s Vice President of Policy, Joe has been instrumental in fostering transformative change for families with young children living in Philadelphia’s shelter system, leading to the creation of unique public-private sector collaborations like the Children’s Work Group and Building Early Links for Learning. In the past 15 years, he led 12+ successful campaigns for legislative and policy changes that enhanced supports for families, children and youth experiencing homelessness in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania. The award will be presented to him by Blair Boroch, Chief Executive Officer of United Healthcare Community Plan of Pennsylvania.

• Comcast, Lancaster Avenue Impact Award: For nearly 20 years, Comcast has bridged the digital divide for families living in the West Philadelphia’s Promise Zone neighborhoods. Comcast was a founding partner to PEC’s Digital Inclusion programs in 2002 which includes classes for adults and youth and a digital lending library that helped keep thousands of residents and families connected to school, work and social activities before, during and after the pandemic. Robert F. Smith, Regional Vice President of Community Impact at Comcast, will accept the award. It will be presented by Damien Ghee, PEC Board Chair and Senior Vice President/Regional Vice President for the Greater Philadelphia Area at TD Bank. 

Keynote speaker for the event will be Nikki Johnson-Alfano, Esq., “From Homeless to Lawyer” podcast host, advocate, and Miss Universe 2021. Johnson-Alfano is a longtime supporter of PEC. She will share her inspirational story. Born into poverty, she was homeless at age nine and failed out of college by age 18. She will talk about how she got a job as a nanny during the day, went back to college at night, and graduated in 2004 from Temple University Beasley School of Law in Philadelphia, where she earned a J.D./M.B.A/ LL.M in Taxation in only four years. Music during the cocktail reception will be performed by Bill Jolly, three-time Emmy Award-winning Jazz musician, producer, and arranger. There will be a silent auction that includes tickets and memorabilia for the current National League Champions the Philadelphia Phillies, and other major sports teams based in Philadelphia. Expected special guests include city of Philadelphia Mayor James Kenney. PEC President Kathy Desmond acknowledged the sponsors of the event as well as donors and staff from five decades of service, “I am grateful to each and every donor, volunteer, board member and staff person for their dedication and compassion during our 50 years of service. It is my honor to serve alongside you, now and in the future.” Desmond is the fourth person to serve as PEC president. She added, “I am inspired every day by the people who choose us to serve them.” Presenting sponsor for the anniversary event is TD Bank. Other sponsors include: Comcast NBCUniversal, Citizens, Independence Blue Cross, TriZen, United Healthcare Community Plan, Wells Fargo, American Airlines, Penn Museum, Ballard Spahr, Royer Cooper Cohen Braunfeld, The Sharp Financial Group, UPMC Health Plan, and Bank of America. Event information can be found at

About: People’s Emergency Center (PEC) has served the community for 50 years. PEC and its affiliates, PEC Community Development Corporation and Youth Service, Inc., uplift our community by providing housing, social services, and quality of life supports that empower people and encourage more prosperous and safer neighborhoods for all residents of West Philadelphia. Learn more at






Free at-home COVID-19 tests

Beginning Wednesday January 19, every home in the U.S. can order 4 free at-home COVID-19 tests. The tests will be completely free-- there are no shipping costs and you don't ned to enter a credit card number. 



Wolf Administration Launches $350 Million
PA Homeowner Assistance Fund 
Funding Will Aid Homeowners
Facing COVID-19 Pandemic-Related Financial Hardships
For immediate release: January 6, 2022 
Published by: Governor’s Office
Media Contact: Elizabeth Rementer, Governor’s Office, [email protected]

Harrisburg, PA – Today, Governor Tom Wolf announced the statewide launch of the Pennsylvania Homeowner Assistance Fund, or PAHAF, administered by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency. PHFA’s plan for administration of the PAHAF has been approved by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. PAHAF applications will open to eligible Pennsylvania homeowners beginning February 1. 

“As we continue to advance our COVID-19 recovery efforts, we must address the rising number of homeowners facing possible loss of their homes and foreclosure – this program will do just that,” said Gov. Wolf. “The Homeowner Assistance Fund will prioritize individuals and families with the greatest need, as well as those who are socially disadvantaged. I am grateful that the U.S. Treasury has approved Pennsylvania’s plan, and we can start the new year by distributing this critical funding to homeowners.” 

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was awarded more than $350 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds through the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF). The fund supports Pennsylvania homeowners whose household income is at or below 150% of the area median income (AMI) that now must grapple with additional unforeseen financial hardships as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. PAHAF will use these funds to provide eligible Pennsylvania homeowners with much-needed assistance to prevent and/or ease mortgage delinquencies, defaults, foreclosures, displacement and utility disconnection. 

“Our mission is to help Pennsylvanians achieve housing stability despite the many hardships faced during these uncertain times,” said PHFA Executive Director and CEO Robin Wiessmann. “PAHAF will provide critical support to eligible Pennsylvania homeowners, allowing families to recover and helping communities overcome the devastating financial and economic impacts of the pandemic.“ 

When PAHAF applications become available February 1, it will be possible to complete them entirely online, eliminating the need for paper submissions and simplifying the process for applicants. For those who may need in-person assistance with their applications, housing counseling agencies and legal service providers across the state will be available to help. Homeowners can learn about PAHAF and see a list of organizations that can assist them by visiting or by calling the PAHAF call center at 888-987-2423. The call center will be open Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM. 

To qualify for this assistance, eligible Pennsylvania homeowners must have experienced a reduction of income or increase in living expenses due to the COVID-19 pandemic after January 21, 2020 (including a hardship that began before January 21, 2020, but continued after that date). They also must currently own and occupy their home in Pennsylvania as their primary residence. In addition, the program has specific income requirements to be eligible. To see the full list of eligibility requirements, visit

Available PAHAF assistance programs include mortgage reinstatement assistance, forward mortgage payment assistance, assistance related to housing property charges and utility payment assistance to avoid displacement. Funds will be distributed directly to mortgage lenders, servicers, utility providers and other authorized third parties, not to homeowners. Homeowners and other interested parties are encouraged to visit to explore PAHAF resources and information.


Stay Informed on COVID-19 in Philadelphia


Below are some quick ways to stay informed:For the latest updates and information on COVID-19 in Philadelphia please visit the webpage.


Paycheck Protection Program Loan Forgiveness Now Available

Attention All Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) borrowers: If your loan is $150,000 or less, you may be eligible to apply for direct forgiveness through SBA using their new online portal. See HERE to learn more about the details and eligibility for the forgiveness program. And for help submitting your application through the portal, check out this training video from the SBA.


Wells Fargo NeighborhoodLIFT Program 

Wells Fargo has launched their NeighborhoodLIFT Program to help eligible homebuyers by providing money for down payments.

This program can help you buy a home of your own by reducing the strain of a down payment and closing costs. You may be eligible even if this isn't your first home purchase.
To learn more about the program and to see if you qualify, visit HERE.

For additional information on resources for business owners, check out Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation's (PIDC) regularly updated list of available opportunities and funding programs.

The Merchants Fund launched a Merchant Relief Fund to raise additional funds to support Philadelphia small businesses with critical need. To support the fund, please visit All donations are tax-deductible and 100% are given to a business in need.



Please support the people of Haiti as they work to recover from the devastating 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck the island on August 14. Many leaders in Philadelphia’s Haitian community will be traveling to Haiti in the near future to help their brothers and sisters recover from the aftermath of the earthquake.  You can help support their trips by donating to their online donation pages or by donating needed supplies.  Please check each individual link to learn more.

 Crayons for Haiti – Founder Yves Marie Desire 

Has had an ongoing partnership with schools in Haiti for a few years. She is fundraising for her Journey to Freedom Trip via Paypal. The trip starts on August 31st. Details of the trip and links are on her page.
Fundraising for a group of volunteers planning to go to Haiti in September. She has a GoFundMe link on her Facebook and Instagram page.

GoFundMe Page for ongoing fundraising for this crisis and to help rebuild homes on the island. This group also is collecting donations and will send a group of volunteers to Haiti to help with recovery efforts.