Creative Housing Solutions for Homelessness in Philadelphia

Councilman Domb's Office
Organization Overview: 

After receiving his Bachelor of Arts Degree from American University in Washington D.C., Allan Domb moved to Philadelphia, a place he has called home for the past 39 years. As a result of his love and belief in Philadelphia, Allan began working in 1980 in order to create a highly reputable real estate brokerage firm; a firm which today has helped transform Center City.

In order to become fully immersed in Philadelphia’s real estate market and to help advocate for the rights of private property owners, Allan in 1990, and consecutively in 2013-2015, served as the President of the Greater Philadelphia Association of Realtors (“GPAR”,) a not-for-profit trade organization. Under Allan’s leadership and vision he changed GPAR’s mission statement from the “Voice for Real Estate in Philadelphia” to the “Voice for Philadelphia.”

It was as a result of his vast business experience and involvement in GPAR, advocating for the rights of private property owners and his success in real estate and other business ventures, that Allan realized a niche needed to be filled in the City of Philadelphia’s government. Allan believed that he could bring the same business skills and advocacy ability that made him a successful businessman to the chambers of Philadelphia City Council.

In November 2015, Allan was elected to Philadelphia City Council as an At-Large member. As a Councilman and a proud Philadelphian, Allan is committed to lowering the poverty rate, collecting delinquent taxes owed to the city, increasing graduation rates, and promoting job growth through the retention of existing business and creation of new businesses by further attracting millennials in the tech and manufacturing industries to Philadelphia.

Project Name: 
Creative Housing Solutions for Homelessness in Philadelphia
Project Type: 
Policy Memo
Project Overview: 

Philadelphia has been seeing an uptick in homelessness and panhandling over the past few years. This may be directly related to the lack of mental health resources, affordable housing shortages, Philadelphia’s 26% Poverty rate, and.or the current Opioid crisis.

Other cities and municipalities are having success with Cottage Houses (aka “Tiny Houses”) to help fight homelessness more cost effectively. Students should identify the best plan of action to house our cities most vulnerable while also providing the support needed to keep these individuals living productive lives. Philadelphia Housing Authority spends approx. $360k per unit on new construction, while "Tiny Houses" are being built for $40-50k.

Cottage House examples:

- CASS Community (Detroit, MI)

- Cost: $1.5 million, initially funded by donations from local companies; including $400,000 from Ford. $40-50k per unit cost

- Tenants pay $1/sq ft in rent and own the home in 7 years

- A Tiny House for Good (Syracuse, NY)

- Infinity Village (Nashville, TN)

- Othello Village (Seattle, WA)

- My Tiny House Project (Los Angeles, CA)

- Second Wind Cottages (Newfield, NY) 


Students should research best practices and report on what other cities' Department of Housing are doing best to battle the increasing number of homeless individuals in their municipality. Make recommendations on what Philadelphia can do based on their current budget. If more funds are needed for specific programs, please recommend ways to find the revenue to complete the proposed plan(s).

Spots Available: 
Executive; Full-Time
To Apply: 

To apply for this project, please contact Cassie Tomkins at

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Contact Information

Fels Institute of Government
University of Pennsylvania
3814 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Phone: (215) 898-2600
Fax: (215) 746-2829