PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Another olive branch in the standoff over homeless encampments in Philadelphia. On Sunday afternoon, residents at the Benjamin Franklin Parkway encampment asked Mayor Jim Kenney to reconsider Monday’s brunch invitation.
They continue to live there despite a final warning to vacate from Philadelphia police on Friday evening.
The residents want to talk to the mayor about access to affordable housing.
“Since I’ve been here, the first night I was here, I slept better than I have in three years. I walked 165 miles in two weeks in this city trying to find housing,” a woman said.
“Without housing, there’s people out here who develop mental health issues, drug abuse issues without adequate and safe housing, and that’s what we’re fighting for,” a man said.
On Friday, the mayor declined the brunch meeting saying he already negotiated with organizers to disband the camps.
Kenney and his team contend organizers are not willing to negotiate, and so far, the mayor has threatened to clear the camps three times. Each deadline passed without action.
“I feel sorry for the mayor in some ways because it’s a rock and a hard place,” Charles Gallagher, a sociology and criminal justice professor at La Salle University, said.
Gallagher says the city simply doesn’t have the capacity to house its homeless population.
“There is a supply and demand issue,” Gallagher said, “that there is not enough affordable housing or subsidized housing to get people who are homeless into shelter.”
Gallagher worries with deadlines coming and going, state resources may eventually be brought in.
“I think at some point, the mayor is going to have his hand forced,” he said. “You can only rattle your saber so many times before people see you as ineffective.”
There’s no word on when the city will begin evicting the homeless encampment residents.