Evictions at Philadelphia homeless camps paused after court petition

Wednesday, August 19, 2020
Evictions at Philadelphia homeless camps paused after court petition
Philadelphia city officials have again postponed the closing of two homeless encampments, one on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, after camp residents sued the city in federal court asking for an injunction to stop their removal.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The deadline came and went and the three homeless encampments across Philadelphia remain along the Ben Franklin Parkway, the Azalea Garden and in front of Housing Authority on Ridge Avenue. Mayor Jim Kenney said there was never a "deadline," but rather a 30-day notice to leave on August 18.

"It's not a deadline, we have a requirement to post and we posted 30 days ago," said Kenney during an afternoon news briefing.

On Monday, Mayor Kenney said in a statement, "After several weeks of face-to-face discussions, and after more than two months of concerted efforts by our administration, I have come to the conclusion that further negotiations would be fruitless."

He expressed his frustration saying, "We agreed to at least 20 different requests to the group and their response is, unless we meet every demand they will stay forever."

In a motion for a temporary restraining order that Attorney Michael Huff filed on behalf of people living in the encampment, there were several demands listed including:

1. Provide plaintiffs with shelter, which is safe, clean, individually separated and in compliance with CDC guidelines regarding the prevention of the spread of COVID-19.

2. Provide plaintiffs including all residents at the encampments with a clear path to permanent housing for which they can be held accountable, and temporary housing until such time at which they are able to provide permanent housing.

3. Provide specific protocol and procedures for the location, labeling, and easy re-acquisition of plaintiffs' property detained which will be held in storage in accordance with the due process requirements of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments."

The City of Philadelphia has ordered the closure of a controversial encampment of protesters along the Ben Franklin Parkway.

During a conference call between Huff, the city solicitor and federal judge Eduardo Robeno, according to Huff, Robeno did not sign the temporary restraining order but did grant an emergency hearing set for Thursday where members of the encampment will testify.

The city cited health and sanitation reasons for the removal, and safety with acts of violence occurring in and around the camp.

The Ridge Avenue encampment is preventing the construction of a much-needed North Philadelphia grocery store.

The city said more than 400 complaints have been filed about the encampments. Residents complain they don't feel safe and it's affecting the use of Von Colln Park in Fairmount.