By Rahel Solomon
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A group of homeless families have set up a tent city in a parking lot in Kensington.READ MORE: Some Students At Mitchell Elementary School Not Fed School Breakfast, Lunch Due To Staff Shortages
They say they have nowhere to go, the city’s shelters are full.
Now the Housing Authority is offering to help, but they say it’s just a temporary solution.
The tent city site actually appears to be slowly coming down with at least one family now in a home.
But organizers say that’s not thanks to the city. But CBS 3 Eyewitness News spoke to city officials who say they’ve been trying to help.
When Eyewitness News met Ciara Brooks and one-month-old Antonia yesterday, she said she felt ashamed. She and others were living here in tents at American and Cumberland Streets in Kensington. The group calls the site tent city. Cheri Honkala of the Poor People’s Economic Rights Campaign has been leading the group.
“We’ve grown from six families to dozens of families,” said Honkala.
Top officials with Philadelphia’s Public Housing Authority and the Office of Supportive Housing say they visited the site Thursday evening and tried to offer emergency shelter.
“We have offered emergency housing and emergency housing is not perfect but it is the first step toward working your way toward permanent housing,” said Marie Nahikian of the Office of Supportive Housing.READ MORE: Atlantic City To Receive $50,000 State Grant To Help With Plan For New Use Of Former Trump Plaza Casino
When CBS 3 Eyewitness News asked Honkala about the city’s claim she denied any real accommodations were offered.
“We are calling the city’s bluff,” said Honkala.
But Friday afternoon, she announced community members had stepped up and offered to help. People like Greg Parker.
“I know how it is to have kids and be out here and not know where the next meal is going to come from,” said Parker.
He was alerted to tent city through the social media site Instagram.
“They were so many comments, it blew up.”
He says commenters kept mentioning a young baby. He rents out properties and knew he had a vacant house. He offered a home rent free to Ciara until she could get back on her feet.
“I just feel grateful, it’s such a relief, just knowing that my kids are going to be okay and they don’t have to be outside,” said Ciara Brooks.
So tonight Ciara and Antonia and their family will be able to sleep here. She says she’s one of the lucky ones because she knows many others won’t be able to say the same.MORE NEWS: Kensington Drug Boss, Ricardo Carrion, Convicted On Several Drug Trafficking Charges
The city says they understand how dire the need is. They’re asking those who need emergency housing to call the Appletree Family Center at 215-685-7150. That’s located at 1430 Cherry Street.