Philadelphia’s encampment is at its deadline and organizers are not happy.
The encampment where homeless people are occupying is said to come to a close at the end of this week, but protestors are fighting back.
After officials announced on July 10 that the tent encampment on the Ben Franklin Parkway would be coming to a close, organizers have pushed back saying they will not leave the area.
One organizer, Jennifer Bennetch, told reporters on July 13 that “residents have decided they’re not leaving.
“We’re not going to get kicked around by the city like a soccer ball,” she said.
The press release from Philadelphia city officials began by saying that the move to forcibly shut down was a ‘last resort.’ They came to the decision after multiple offers were turned down by the tent camp’s organizers.
“We respect the right of people to protest peacefully, and fully share the residents’ concerns about the lack of affordable housing,” said Deputy Managing Director of Health and Human Services Eva Gladstein. However, these efforts take time and often require approvals from other entities outside of the City, so we are not able to deliver this immediately. We have also been clear that this camp is not a long-term solution to homelessness, and we are concerned about the safety and health of the individuals there.”
However, the Philadelphia Housing Action, the group that organized the encampment said it was a political protest against the city’s policies towards homeless people and the lack of low-income housing.
Bennetch, a member of the Occupy PHA, vowed not to take anymore city services unless proper housing was provided for all.
“From here on out, we don’t want any services from the city, unless it’s housing, We don’t want your water, we don’t want your outreach, defund the Office of Homeless Services.”
Since the organizers are saying they are refusing to move from the encampment, Gladstein said they have not made a decision if they resist. She added the city has shelter beds available, but the camp residents said those shelters are dangerous and not a solution in the least.
This conflict is far from over until the city’s officials find a better alternative to housing the homeless that's not displacing them or putting them in a shelter.