PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A federal judge says Philadelphia officials can move ahead in dismantling the homeless encampments in Philadelphia. This has been a very contentious case from the beginning.
Now, a federal judge has made the final decision the encampments in the city have to go. There are a few stipulations that come with the decision.
The City of Philadelphia is permitted to dissolve and terminate the encampments by reasonable means.
There must be at least 72 hours notice to disband, and encampment dwellers should be offered storage for their belongings. Campers will be provided with bins that will be transferred to a storage site. They will also be provided with retrieval information, a password and a receipt.
The 27-page ruling determined that the city is allowed to “dissolve and terminate” the encampments, the largest of which has grown on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway for 76 days.
Dwellers waited anxiously for Tuesday’s decision before Judge Eduardo Robreno denied their restraining order and injunction. The occupants filed suit last week after the city did not act on an order to leave.
Mayor Jim Kenney says the city wants them off public land, but they’ve also been focused on efforts to assist encampment residents with shelter or appropriate treatment.
Kenney says officials will continue to work to peacefully get people out of the encampment.
”We’re still negotiating. We’re still trying to make this come out the right way for everyone. We’ve placed about 100 people in shelter and in various areas of treatment, we’ve placed people in hotels. We’re talking to them every day. I’m interested in having this amicably resolved, but they can’t stay on public property forever. It’s just not tenable,” Kenney said.
“Mayor Kenney has been more compassionate than any mayor we have had over the last decade or two as far as it relates to poverty and homelessness,” said Chosen 300 Ministries Executive Director Brian Jenkins.
Jenkins works closely with the homeless community in the city.
“I think the encampment alone was a public awareness message and is really letting people know that homelessness does exist,” he said.
Encampment residents have said in the past if forced to leave they will just pop up elsewhere, but now their tune seems to be changing slightly.
Encampment leaders have a meeting set for this Friday with City Councilmembers Kendra Brooks and Jamie Gauthier as they work to figure out the next steps and expedite housing.
“I got emails from people afraid to come out of their apartments because when they come out, aggressive panhandling, they are being accosted on the street verbally,” said Dennis Boylan, president of the Logan Square Neighborhood Association.
The ruling has provided some relief for the neighborhood residents who had also cited issues of theft, drug paraphernalia and human waste as byproducts of the encampment.
CBS3’s Alecia Reid and Alexandria Hoff contributed to this report.