PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Organizers of three homeless encampments in Philadelphia are claiming victory in ongoing negotiations with the city. They say there is now an offer on the table for permanent affordable housing.
However, the Philadelphia Housing Authority says the announcement of a victory by encampment leaders was premature and “puts any deal in serious jeopardy.”
In a statement, organizers say the city agreed to transfer 50 vacant homes to a land trust. That trust would then designate the properties as permanent affordable housing for people making less than $25,000 a year.
In a video posted to Instagram on Sunday, organizers of the camp discussed and clarified the details of the tentative agreement.
“PHA on Friday showed us nine houses on one block which says a lot about what we’ve been saying all along and which they said is a lie, but it’s true that they’re intentionally neglecting properties in our neighborhood as to cause blight and using their own intentional blight to justify seizing land from private homeowners in black neighborhoods,” camp organizer Jennifer Bennetech said.
Bennetech says, of the nine properties, one is in a condition that people can be moved into it in about a week or two.
“The ongoing fight is just beginning. The 50 houses are a big step because up to a week ago there was nothing. We were all just waiting for the cops to come and attack us. And the way I look at it, personally, though it is a very small number, our duties in these encampments was different than our original fight to stop gentrification and for a system to get structural change. We have 100 or more individuals who are currently experiencing homelessness and these units of people are paired up or grouped up will essentially get all of these people off the streets and even leave room for families that have been waiting for units too. So why would we turn that down because it’s not everything we asked for? That would be really wrong towards the people in the encampment,” Bennetech said. “These are people that are about to be here when it’s about to be below zero. So if we can get them off the streets, that doesn’t mean that the fight is over, the fight has just begun.”
The city says any official agreement will come with a firm date to vacate the property on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
Three eviction notices have already been ignored.
Meanwhile, a blockage has been removed from the area of 22nd Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The area is now open to vehicular traffic.