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Neighbors Dealing With Aftermath Of Conrail Cleanup

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It’s been two months since the City of Philadelphia and Conrail began cleaning out the area around Gurney Street that was once frequented by heroin users.

Now residents are complaining that the human element that once lived underground- is now spilling into the neighborhood.

Luis has lived near Gurney Street for 24 years.

“This is the worse I’ve ever seen it,” he said.

Tony lives on Howard Street, and had hope that after the Conrail tracks were fenced up and cleaned out that the neighborhood would get safer, but one act didn’t lead to the other.

“There’s no more junkies in the tracks, but unfortunately they’re out in the streets,” he said.

They, and other residents of the area, have lived with the impact of the opioid epidemic for years; they were hopeful when the clean up began July 31st- removing tons of trash and debris, and fencing off the tracks- but the reality is, those who lived underground in what’s known as El Campamento are now above ground.

“What we’re seeing right now is a new movement of individuals displaced from El Campamento looking for different places to live, to use the drugs and to open a new camp,” explained outreach worker Charito Morales.

Neighbors are reportedly using narcan to revive overdose victims.

Managing Deputy Director for Community Services Joanna Otero Cruz says the city and community partners are doing outreach 24 hours a day. So far they’ve engaged 1300 individuals and convinced more than 300 to get some form of services.

“Services could be medical care, there’s also a huge need for wound care, unfortunately we are only at 77 percent capacity to date,” she said.

Hear about the city, residents, and more- as well as about the future of the Global Movement to End Breast Cancer Sunday morning at 8:30 on Flashpoint on KYW Newsradio 1060.

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