Business owner says drugs, crime hurting his bottom line after SEPTA station closes

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The closing of SEPTA's Somerset Station in Philadelphia's Kensington section is taking its toll on business owners.

Just days after the big announcement, the owner of Bob's Check Cashing on Kensington Avenue says he has witnessed an increase in crime and drug dealing directly in front of his doors.

"It's infested with people doing heroin right on our corner going down to Allegheny Avenue," Andrew Flitter said. "We just can't get rid of these people shooting up in front of the store."

Flitter has owned Bob's Check Cashing in Kensington for 34 years. His business is across from the Somerset Station, which SEPTA shut down indefinitely for repairs and clean up.

While the decision sparked protests, a big reason was due to the increased number of people experiencing homelessness and people dealing drugs inside the station, as well as an uptick in crime.

Flitter said all the riffraff going on inside the station is now directly in front of his business and that it's taking a toll.

He said customers are afraid to get out when they are confronted with people with needles in their hands. He also shared a video of churches or nonprofits feeding people in the area, which he said makes the nightmare even worse.

"You're making it OK for them to sit there and do drugs," Flitter said. "They don't even eat the food. They throw the food on the ground."

A SEPTA spokesperson said that they understand the frustration of local business owners, which the agency can attest to firsthand. SEPTA is working to be a part of the solution.

"We're working on plans to increase security and have additional resources for people who need help," SEPTA spokesperson Andrew Busch said.

Meanwhile, Flitter said it's a hard problem to tackle because many of the people who are on drugs come from the suburbs and out of state. But like many who protested, he is holding on to faith.
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