In Council News, Katherine Gilmore Richardson by Khara Garcia

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The funding will support A Home from Shana Foundation in establishing the United States’ first and only maternity safe haven staffed with doulas

PHILADELPHIA – Today, Philadelphia City Council Majority Leader Katherine Gilmore Richardson (At-Large) awarded A Home from Shana Foundation $250,000 to address the Black maternal mortality and homeless crises impacting Black women and birthing people. During the check presentation, she was joined by Cleopatra Robinson, founder, A Home from Shana Foundation; Pennsylvania state Representative Gina H. Curry, co-chair of the Pennsylvania Black Maternal Health Caucus; Marianne A. Fray, president & CEO of the Maternity Care Coalition; and Nina Winfield, a Philadelphia mother who was previously pregnant and unhoused.  

The funding will go towards establishing the first and only maternity safe haven in the United States staffed with birth doulas called “LaborLiveLove.” The first-of-its-kind center will have certified birth doulas on staff who will guide expecting parents through labor, birth, and postpartum.

According to a report published by the Philadelphia Maternal Mortality Review Committee (MMRC), non-Hispanic Black women are about four times more likely to die of pregnancy related causes than non-Hispanic white women. Additional data from the MMRCs shows that more than 80 percent of pregnancy-related deaths were preventable.

“For far too long, there has been a discrepancy between what the data shows and what government does as it relates to addressing the Black maternal mortality crisis impacting our communities,” said Majority Leader Gilmore Richardson. “We know that pregnancy can increase a woman’s risk of becoming displaced. As a result of experiencing housing instability, pregnant women and birthing people face significantly greater health risks.”

She added, “I am proud to support Cleopatra Robinson and A Home from Shana Foundation as they address this issue head on and create a safe haven that is culturally sensitive to the needs of those being impacted by this crisis the most.”

A Home from Shana Foundation honors the life and legacy of LaShana (Shana) Gilmore who passed away in 2019 at the age of 34 while giving birth to her second child. Shana earned a bachelor of arts in criminal justice from Chestnut Hill College. Her last position was helping returning citizens transition home and helping to connect them with the resources to do so.

In 2020, Shana’s best friend, Cleopatra Robinson became a birth doula and created the foundation to improve birth outcomes for Black women and birthing people, provide emergency and transitional housing for expecting parents experiencing housing insecurity, and support them in locating permanent affordable housing. The foundation will also provide wraparound support services to increase self-sufficiency such as life skills, nutrition counseling, post-partum care and job placement.  

“Quality of life starts at birth. Before birth is pregnancy and pregnancy starts at home,” said A Home From Shana Foundation founder Cleopatra Robinson. “Up until now, Philadelphia did not have an emergency housing intake unit for pregnant women. Pregnant women who are unhoused are less likely to receive vital prenatal care and won’t be able to receive the recommended amount of postpartum care and support. This grant will allow us to keep supporting pregnant women in our communities and aid expecting mothers seeking emergency housing.”

Research confirms that housing instability during pregnancy can create substantial health risks for both the parent and the infant. Pregnant people who are unhoused also face food insecurity, unemployment, and barriers to accessing transportation. As a result, they may not receive proper prenatal or postnatal care.

According to a 2022 report by Nemours Children’s Health and the People’s Emergency Center, in 2020, nearly half of all children being served by homeless housing programs in Philadelphia were under the age of five. The report notes that homelessness in children can negatively impact their development and contribute to problems in “cognition, learning, memory, physical health and mental health.”

Additional information on A Home from Shana Foundation, including how you can support their mission, can be found at homefromshana.org.



Photos and videos from the event can be found here.  

Majority Leader Katherine Gilmore Richardson is the youngest person to be elected majority leader and the youngest Black woman ever elected to Philadelphia City Council. As an at-large councilmember, she has championed issues such as advancing workforce development opportunities, protecting Philadelphia’s fiscal stability, uplifting working parents, addressing quality of life issues, and ensure environmental justice and climate resiliency. Stay updated at PHLCouncil.com, on Facebook & Instagram @CouncilmemberKGR and on Twitter @CouncilwomanKGR. 

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