Tent City in Philly demands permanent housing for its residents
Homeless groups set up their tents on Benjamin Franklin Parkway in hopes of getting calling for government action on housing amid COVID-19 and BLM protests..
Along the road that leads to its famous Rocky steps, a sign reads: “Housing Now!” It’s strategically located in front of a tourist site to shed some light on the housing crisis that exists in Philadelphia.
A group of homeless people have set up their tents on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway since being displaced by COVID-19 and recent protests as part of the #OccupyPHA movement. The camp along the parkway is called “The Lakay Nou,” a Haitian word for “Our Home.”
The Workers Revolutionary Group, the Black and Brown Workers Cooperative, and Occupy PHA organized the encampment to demand permanent affordable-housing options from city leaders. The Philly Socialist posted on Twitter what they were asking from the city. It included an autonomous zone, where cops would not enter without a valid reason.
The Workers Revolutionary Collective and Occupy PHA have begun an encampment at Von Colln Memorial Field (at the intersection of Spring Garden St and Pennsylvania Ave)
They need bodies on the ground to hold it down. Please make it out if you can. Details below: pic.twitter.com/fCgLeqND2r
— Philly Socialists ✪ (@phillysocialist) June 10, 2020
While the encampment is not directly involved with the protests over the last couple of weeks, the uprisings did displace 75 homeless people from Thomas Paine Plaza.
In an interview with the WHYY, Tanya Lilly, who lost housing in October said she had nowhere to go, sleeping in LOVE park.
“Maybe now I can get some rest,” she said.
The camp site is a protest as well as a place for individuals to sleep.
Previously, the encampment was outside of the Philadelphia International Airport, but the city made the homeless clear the area over the past month.
Though this has gone on for a couple weeks, Philadelphia officials are continuing to negotiate with the people living in those encampments. In a statement, they said they were offering housing in hotel rooms to the older homeless people, who are at high risk for COVID-19. They added that more housing would become available to more people if they came to an agreement, but that a conversation to negotiate has proved difficult.
In an interview with 6 ABC, Indigo, a volunteer with Occupy PHA defended the protestors’ ability to set up their tents.
"If you have a city who refuses to provide viable and sustainable options for unhoused people to go to, there should be no reason that you should be able to enforce any laws pertaining to trespassing or pertaining to private property when people are simply trying to setup a tent and sleep," she said.
Though it is not clear how long the encampment is going to last, the message from these people is very clear and want to be heard beyond city officials releasing statements.
This article is part of Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting