As part of the Health Care for the Homeless Project, the Mary Howard Health Center, a comprehensive primary health care center for homeless people, opened on February 25, 1997 with support from Philadelphia's Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the Independence Foundation, and other public and private funders. The Mary Howard Health Center is the only nurse-managed health center specifically for homeless people. It is based on the premise that comprehensive, continuous health care of homeless people is achievable. This level of care is possible because of the unique "community" developed over the past fifteen years by the Health Care for the Homeless Project and many other providers working in partnership with homeless people.

Located at 125 South 9th street, the Center provides health care to homeless people at all points along of the continuum: from the street to shelter to transitional housing to self-sufficiency. Health Care for the Homeless outreach staff are the lead providers addressing the special health needs of the hardest to reach homeless people; those identified by outreach groups responding to the Sidewalk Ordinance. While seeking out homeless people on the street, the Center is able to continue health care as people move toward self-sufficiency.

The Health Care for the Homeless Project and Mary Howard Health Center have developed expertise in providing continuity of care to a transient population with limited support systems. Seventy-nine percent of the clients at the Mary Howard Health Center had successful follow-up/treatment of abnormal results. This success is possible in part because the Health Care for the Homeless Project has developed services in partnership with homeless people, advocates, and homeless service providers. The project also collaborates with the Philadelphia Department of Health to address the special health risks associated with life on the street and in shelter. In addition, the project nurses and nurse practitioners use problem and social visits as opportunities for health promotion and disease prevention. The result is care as comprehensive as clients are ready to accept. Services include:

  • Primary Care
  • Family planning
  • Assistance with benefits
  • Physical exam


Services are open to any patient regardless of ability to pay; sliding fee is available for uninsured and underinsured patients.

Contact information

125 South 9th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
215.592.4500 PHONE
215.592.4326 FAX