Irving W. Shandler

William Henry Hastie
Sol Schoenbach

Irving W. Shandler was a social worker and an expert on Philadelphia’s skid row. His book (co-authored with Leonard Blumberg and Thomas E. Shipley, Jr.), Skid Row and Its Alternatives: Research and Recommendations from Philadelphia (1973) portrayed the homelessness and misery common on Skid Row, and evaluated programs to alleviate the problem, including intensive counseling and the use of half-way houses.

S kid Row is perhaps every large city’s greatest shame, since it brings attention to the city’s failure to provide its most vulnerable citizens solace. But that did not hinder Shandler, even though as the years passed his clientele profile slipped deeper into the depths.

Alcoholism was replaced by heroin addiction, and then “polydrugs”—crack cocaine and alcohol. The addicts became younger, angrier, more aggressive, and much more numerous.

The center, once located at 304 Arch Street, expanded to include three facilities, providing comprehensive rehabilitation and treatment programs for substance abuse. Many of his clients were successful at kicking the habit and turning their lives around; sixty percent of his clients, for example, completed the program at the Washington House facility in 1991. One assumes that those persons who overcame their addition would not consider that small in any sense.