City of Philadelphia disperses homeless encampment at 18th and Vine streets

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The clearing at the homeless encampment at 18th and Vine Street began precisely at 10 a.m. Monday.

This was scheduled to occur, signs posted to a fence more than a month ago.

Since then, at least 14 people who live in that encampment have been placed.

The city will store belongings for free for up to 60 days. Whatever is left behind at the camp was thrown out.

Others will just move elsewhere.

"It's better to be out here," a man told us, who wanted only to be identified as "B.K."

B.K. explained he has been homeless for 5 years and lived at 18th and Vine for 3 of them.

"Hospital up the street, church. Library. Everything is right here," B.K. indicated by way of explanation.

He says he's tried shelters.

"They kick you out at 7a.m., and you have to walk miles to get four hours sleep," B.K. told 6abc.

"You can't bring more than two bags, so if you bring more than two bags you have to throw it all away," he added.

B.K. continued, "My second experience with a shelter here was out here on Spring Garden. I go in there, the next morning I woke up, and I had over 300 bed bug bites on each leg."

David Holloman Chief of Staff at the City Office of Homeless Services said, "Just over a year ago, this went from having three tents to almost 25 tents here. So I think this is a necessity that we need to do."

Holloman explained outreach workers have been coming daily.

The office has worked to coordinate resources, as they did when they cleared four Kensington encampments last year.

Holloman emphasized that there is enough space for everyone.

"We have actually set aside beds in our facilities from shelter beds, to treatment beds, even 'Housing First' beds," he told 6abc.

Holloman also said, "We have really transformed shelters over the years."

"It'a wintertime. One person being out here is too many people being out here," Holloman added.

Marsha Cohen, from the Homeless Advocacy Project wanted to be here for the clearing to ensure all went as planned.

"We need to keep at focus the human element here. We need to take care of the people. This needs to be about what are the needs of these very vulnerable individuals, and not whether this is unsightly for the city," said Cohen.
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