PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A deadline is looming for people living in the two homeless encampments in Philadelphia. A posted city order says residents need to vacate by 9 a.m. Wednesday morning.
But dwellers have banded together and say they have no intention of leaving.
— Alecia Reid (@alecia__reid) September 8, 2020
The countdown is on for yet another eviction.
“We’re not going nowhere. We’re not. Where are we going to go? We got nowhere to go,” said Teddy Munson.
Homeless encampment organizers call this round three as they’ve continued to buy themselves time, even taking the order to disband to court.
Prior orders to vacate were not enforced — inaction that a federal judge referred to as the city “crying wolf” late last month. The judge ultimately ruled that eviction can take place given 72 hours notice.
Even after a federal judge’s ruling, there’s no intention of moving.
“A majority of these residents have been blacklisted from these shelters and have nowhere to go,” one person said.
And with nowhere to go, it’s safer for them to stay in an encampment.
“Food, water, clothes, anything we need is really here. We don’t have to wait in a long line waiting to get it. We don’t have to be told no,” Tanya Scott said.
For now, they say the city’s solutions are only temporary.
“Housing is a human right. The rents in Philadelphia are too high. That is the issue,” said Sterling Johnson, the organizer of Black & Brown Workers Cooperative.
“I’m an able-bodied man, I get up and work every single day yet I can’t afford to take care of mine and myself,” Anthony Lloyd said.
When asked what the city intends on doing if dwellers refuse to leave, Mayor Jim Kenney responded: “We’ve been in touch directly with residents, resident groups and representative groups and we will continue this effort until it doesn’t work anymore. I don’t know when that’s going to be,” he said.
Dwellers and supporters say they are prepared for what’s to come tomorrow morning.
“If they want to get physical and arrest us were prepared for that,” Irvin Glenn Murray said.
“Mayor, do what you got to do tomorrow, we’re coming back,” one man said.
Throughout Tuesday evening, Philadelphia police, who those inside the camp have banned from entering, have blocked off the outer lane of the parkway as encampment residents held a cookout.
A formal invitation called for more people to come out to 22nd Street and the parkway and a secondary homeless encampment at Ridge Avenue and Jefferson Street, for a meal and to spend the night. The call to action was called “Camp Defense Round Three.”
“What are y’all going to do with us, for real? What are they going to do if they disperse the hundreds of people who live out here? What’s the other option for us?” Lloyd said.
In recent weeks, negotiations between camp leaders and city officials broke down. The mayor’s office noted a constantly changing list of demands coming from the camp.
In a statement, City Councilmembers Jamie Gauthier and Kendra Brooks said: “The fact that an agreement remains unattainable is a reflection of just how difficult it is to secure safe, permanent housing for all Philadelphians, but it still does not justify clearing the encampments during a global pandemic.”
Residents who live on the parkway have long voiced their concern over blatant drug use, plus unsanitary and unsafe conditions flowing out from within the encampment.
According to city officials, they have met several demands, including plans for a tiny house village, hotel rooms to house the COVID-vulnerable, and a rapid rehousing program.
CBS3’s Alecia Reid and Alexandria Hoff contributed to this report.