PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The tents, signs, and barricades lining the Benjamin Franklin Parkway since June will soon be a thing of the past. The James Talib Dean Camp on the Parkway is emptying out.
Under the new agreement with the city and the Philadelphia Housing Authority, residents will voluntarily vacate the homeless encampment by the end of the week.
“We feel good. Change has to start somewhere,” Jennifer Bennetch with Occupy PHA said.
The city will transfer a total of 50 properties to a land trust established by encampment residents. Within five days of the dissolution of the camp, the city will provide access of up to 10 properties to the land trust, and, over time, encampment residents will have access to all 50.
“Ten will be licensed immediately then 40 will be transferred over a period of six months,” Bennetch said.
In addition, the city will develop two villages made of tiny homes by the end of the year — one with about 12 self-contained units and the other will feature communal kitchens and bathrooms that can accommodate up to a dozen people.
“We’re not jumping over anybody that was on the waiting list,” Bennetch said. “These units would have been sold to a developer and gone to the private market.”
Under the street to home Rapid Rehousing Pilot Program, the Office of Homeless Services has created 50 new opportunities for residents of both the Parkway and Ridge Avenue camps. Those approved will receive security deposit, moving costs, leasing assistance, and up to 24 months of rental assistance.
In a statement, Mayor Jim Kenney says, “As with last week’s resolution of the Ridge Avenue Camp, this agreement is the result of a lot of hard work by all of those involved, and I thank everyone for their efforts. This took a long time, but an amicable resolution was always my goal, and I’m pleased that this has been achieved.”
The mayor also says the city and PHA will continue to collaborate with encampment leaders on reusing vacant properties and also treatment reform for those who need it.