Philadelphia officials are giving those who have been camping on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in protest of permanent housing until July 17 to leave.
The camp, which has existed at 22nd St and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway since July 7, has grown to about 70-80 people sleeping outside in tents every night. According to Chief of Staff of Homeless Services David Holloman, the number is very fluid due to people coming in and out of the encampment.
Residents of the encampment have been negotiating with the city for weeks, with demands for permanent housing.
The growing camp has raised attention to the issue of homelessness in Philadelphia, and Deputy Managing Director of Health and Human Services Eva Goldstein says the protestors have been “helpful in raising awareness.”
“We need more voices like theirs,” she said.
However, the public space needs to be restored so the encampment must be dismantled.
City officials have been working on a framework to provide adequate support and resources for those in need.
Chief of Staff Holloman says there are beds available at shelters, treatment facilities, and there is also a COVID-19 prevention space available for use. He says there are enough beds to support the number of people in the encampment. 15 people from the encampment have already been provided housing.
The goal is to work individually with those who need permanent housing and find placements. Those in the encampment will be encouraged to access services, in hope that it will motivate them to voluntarily decamp.
Goldstein added that Wednesday July 15 and Thursday July 16 will be “intensive days” where outreach services will be coming in to the encampment. The plan is to offer resources to individuals, provide storage for goods, and help with transportation.
The Office of Homeless Services has honored the organizers wishes of a “no police zone” and are committed to work with those who are in need of housing. Goldstein says she is hopeful that people will leave peacefully next week.