Philadelphia/ Community & Society
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Published on May 07, 2024
Philadelphia to Clear Kensington Avenue Homeless Camp as Part of Safety and Rehabilitation DriveSource: Google Street View

Philadelphia is taking decisive steps towards reformation as the city prepares to clear out the homeless encampment on Kensington Avenue. This Wednesday, the stretch from East Orleans Street to Allegheny Avenue will be sealed off from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. to facilitate the process. The closure is intended as a safety measure for city outreach teams engaging with individuals living in the encampment, as they work to dismantle tents and other make-do shelters lining the sidewalks. 6abc reports that all vehicles will be re-routed southeast to Frankford Avenue and Emerald Street, with the city having notified residents in advance to remove any structures posing public health and safety hazards.

According to FOX 29, the "encampment resolution" initiative came after a 30-day notice issued on April 4, with outreach teams and social services agencies working daily to ensure those displaced by the resolution are provided with access to low-barrier housing and treatment connections. These efforts are part of a broader strategy to tackle the long-standing issue of homelessness compounded by drug use in the area.

Cherelle Parker, the city's mayor, has prioritized addressing the crisis in Kensington, vowing to transform Philadelphia into the "safest, cleanest, greenest big city" in the country. CBS News Philadelphia reported that Parker held a budget town hall at Rock Ministries Tuesday night, ahead of the resolution plan. Her five-step plan for the neighborhood has been met with questions by some community groups curious about the administration's approach.

Efforts extend beyond the encampment resolution. The Philadelphia City Council, seeking to quell the opioid crisis, has imposed curfews on businesses in the area. City Councilmember Quetcy Lozada explained that the bill was crafted with input from residents, businesses, and nonprofits in response to the opioid crisis. Moreover, city council members have formed a Kensington Caucus aimed at improving life in the district. Mayor Parker appointed Pedro Rosario as deputy police commissioner to spearhead public safety initiatives. Amidst these strategic moves, a new drug, xylazine, has joined the ranks of substances plaguing the streets of Philadelphia, adding urgency to the city's fight against the opioid epidemic.