Our Mission & History

About Us

Dignity Housing is the first housing and supportive services program in the nation to be founded and guided by homeless people and activists.  Since 1988, Dignity has provided both quality affordable housing and supportive services to thousands of people – primarily single African American women and their children. Dignity has cultivated an individualized services approach to meeting the complex needs of homeless individuals and families.  Dignity currently manages an inventory of 58 units of transitional and permanent supportive housing concentrated in Northwest Philadelphia.

Our Mission

Dignity Housing’s mission is to break the cycle of homelessness and poverty that confronts low-income families and individuals in Philadelphia. We work to fulfill our mission through the provision of transitional and permanent supportive housing in combination with supportive services that create opportunities and promote self-sufficiency.

“The first thing you lose is your dignity.  On the streets, in abandoned buildings, you can’t meet your basic needs in privacy or safely.”

Our History

The Committee for Dignity and Fairness for the Homeless Housing Development, Inc, now known as Dignity Housing, was established in 1988 as a direct response to the sentiments of this remark from a homeless man to Dignity’s co-founder, Alicia Christian. During the period of 1984 to 1989, Homeless activists and their allies, including Dignity’s founders, William “Chris” Sprowal, Leona Smith, and Ms. Christian came together to rally local governments for affordable housing and supportive services for the homeless. Many of Dignity’s founders had experience homelessness themselves and were able to draw from their experience to create a program that didn’t just provide short term housing, but supportive services to help people break the cycle of homelessness. In 1987, city officials agreed to collaborate with leaders to improve the plight of homeless in Philadelphia. Their efforts resulted in the formation of Dignity Housing – the first housing and social services program in the nation founded and guided by homeless people and activists.

Since the beginning and continuing to this day, Dignity focuses on helping homeless families and individuals stabilize their lives, move toward self-sufficiency, and find permanent homes. Dignity does this by creating services that are individualized for each resident and their family.  Every resident is assigned a case manager who provides guidance, encouragement and connection to resources that help families and individuals achieve their goals.

Meet our staff here.


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