Homeless won't be evicted from Kensington church

KENSINGTON - August 11, 2010

A spokesperson for the mayor says a cease operations order for a homeless shelter program at the Hope Outreach United Church of Christ in the Kensington section has been lifted.

Philadelphia Police and officials from the city's Licensing and Inspections Department had prepared to evict the men from church.

Authorities had said the church was zoned for church gatherings, not a rooming house.

The church was getting around that order by holding overnight prayer vigils for the homeless men, who are recognized as congregants. The mattresses the men were using have vanished.

On Wednesday afternoon inspectors from L&I went into the church to give it another inspection.

Afterward, officials said there was no problem because the men were not sleeping there anymore.

The church's lawyer and the ACLU tell Action News they'll continue pressing the city to formally allow them to re-start the sleepover program for the homeless men.

Officials tried to get the men to move to city shelters on Wednesday morning but the men refused. They told Action News the shelters are pest-infested, dangerous and full of drug activity.

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