PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) - A question that impacts the quality of life for thousands. Is the City of Philadelphia winning the war against opioid addiction?
The encampment of homeless and drug-addicted under the railroad overpass at Lehigh and Frankford was cleared out by Philly police on Thursday. By Friday, the encampment at Lehigh and Emerald—just a block away was bigger than ever. It's an illustration of the challenge facing those who call Kensington home
Donna Aument has lived near Willard and G for nearly 50 years.
"My great-grandson hasn't played on the street since school started. He stays in the house. Too dangerous with the opioid people," she said.
Aument was among those in attendance as city officials met to update progress made by their so-called 'Resilience Project', which is aimed at moving homeless addicts into shelters and drug treatment, cleaning up trash and reducing crime related to the epidemic.
Just last week, FOX 29 asked Police Commissioner Richard Ross whether he thought his department's efforts to curb the drug epidemic were working.
Ross's answer that despite lots of effort: "To suggest that we think that we've made inroads at this point, I would say no," Commissioner said.
When FOX 29's Bruce Gordon asked Mayor Kenney about that response, he suggested we'd taken the commissioner out of context.
"How did we misinterpret that then?" Gordon asked.
"I had a conversation with him and I explained that to him and he said that's not what he meant. So, we're making inroads here, pretty clear," Mayor Kenney said.
Perhaps, but not without cost and controversy. Councilwoman Maria Quinones Sanchez represents this neighborhood. She rose at the meeting to complain that shelters and treatment centers were being dumped in her district to make it convenient for addicts.
"I have made it clear to the mayor and to all of you—you are not setting up any more sites," she said.
She questions why the city allows this kind of behavior in her district, but not in wealthier zip codes.
"I can't take 40-50 people anywhere in the city, set up a tent, live there, openly have drugs, sex with no consequences. I would be removed," Councilwoman Quinones said.
There is one area that may suggest some progress: drug overdose deaths in the city decreased by 17% in the first quarter of this year compared to the first quarter of 2017. However, it's not clear whether that's a real drop, or simply reflects the more widespread and successful use of Narcan on overdose victims.