Mass eviction at Kensington homeless encampments

KENSINGTON (WPVI) -- It's an argument that's pitted Kensington residents against those sleeping, and often abusing heroin, on the street. And there's no perfect solution.

After a 30-day notice posted by the city, dozens living in tents under overpasses at Lehigh Avenue and Tulip Street and at Kensington Avenue and Lehigh Avenue were evicted.

"This plan was necessary because the camps were adjacent to schools and neighborhoods and posed a health and safety threat," said Michael DiBerardinis, the Managing Director of Philadelphia.
During this pilot program, Homeless Services workers complied a list of 110 homeless people who wanted shelter. Beds were reserved for them.

Workers also offered medical and addiction services on demand.

"When people feel the urge that they are ready in the moment to receive treatment, we have to seize that moment," said Elizabeth Hersh, Director of the Office of Homeless Services.

Jason Carmine had been living under the overpass at Lehigh Avenue and Tulip Street for the last two months. He has decided to go to an in-treatment facility,

"Monday, Prevention Point has a an appointment for me for an inpatient service. I'm hoping to get into that. They can help me get an ID and hopefully, I can get a legitimate job out here," Carmine said.

Those removed from the camps Wednesday who didn't register with Homeless Services won't have a bed reserved. Instead, they face a waitlist.

Protesters of the eviction say the lack of available beds is appalling.

"All they're doing is removing this issue and moving it elsewhere," said Britt Carpenter of the Philly Unknown Project.

The Office of Homeless Services estimates another $7 to $8 million is needed to clear out two other encampments in the neighborhood and provide shelter for those people.


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