Merchants fed up with homeless issue at Suburban Station

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The Hub of Hope has been a beacon of resources for many of the city's homeless down at Suburban Station.

But some are wondering if the Hub has become a victim of its own success?

People and merchants are complaining about crime, drugs and a sense of utter filth.

"Defecating everywhere, pee all on the wall, they don't care," says Lloyd Outerbridge.

He has been a barber here at D.Tails & D. Signs for many years. He says the Hub of Hope here at Suburban Station has helped many homeless people over the years. But he and other merchants say it's also attracted a bad element.

Fellow merchant Monica Hadley says, "You have people that are taking advantage of it, they are not truly homeless, they come down and they smoke K2, we got people down here smoking crack now."

Outerbridge says, "It's bad for business, older women, it scares them away. They scared to even come down here, I hear them say they hate even coming down here."

Butch Foley, who owns the Philadelphia Flower Market, says he was victimized by a homeless person who meandered into his shop high on K2 throwing glass vases of flowers at him.

"As I'm escorting him out of the door, he stabs me right here, to the point where I'm bleeding, I mean I'm stabbed," says Foley.

He adds, "They're claiming they're helping us merchants, I've never seen anybody in 36 years from the city down here."

Some commuters say they are they are concerned that nothing seems to be being done about it.

Bob Currington of North Philadelphia says, "I see a problem that's not being addressed, they're just walking by them and they're not really doing anything and it's getting worse."

Sister Mary Scullion, director of Project Home, runs the Hub says she shares those concerns.

"We share the merchants concerns about some of the drug activity that happens down here, we see what they see and it's disturbing," says Scullion.

She adds, "We're hoping that the police and the SEPTA police can step up the efforts to address these illegal activities."

For his part, Mayor Jim Kenney says, "We can't force them out of a public place but we're working with them every day. And the opioid crisis has made things even worse, cause now we have the addiction on top of the homelessness. We are working on it."

The mayor says he plans to send people from the commerce department to talk to some of the merchants and assure them that they are doing things but that it's just a very difficult problem that they're dealing with. At the very least that could make merchants feel like someone is finally listening.
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