PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) - The latest victims of Philadelphia's homeless crisis are speaking out to FOX 29. They work for the city in what should be the safest part of the city, but claim they're being harassed and even attacked on their way to and from the job.
Our Bruce Gordon has the story.
Workers in Philadelphia's Municipal Services Building in Center City say the city’s homeless crisis is putting their safety at risk. They say the homeless rousted from the new Dilworth Park, even newer Love Park and attracted by the Hub of Hope service facility below ground have taken over.
"I finally got down here and got the job that I wanted, but I don't feel safe," Christy Poulton said. She says it was a longtime dream come true when she began working across the street from city hall. Now, she sats every smoke break turns into a confrontation.
“I have people in my face, asking for money and cigarettes and if you say no they get nasty. They get hostile. They're out here fighting, they're out here doing things that I can't mention on TV."
Karen Foster carries pepper spray to protect herself from homeless harassment.
"I know that the Hub is a good idea,” she told FOX 29's Bruce Gordon. “That's not the point. The point is our safety!"
Foster is building a petition—with nearly 80 names so far—of MSB workers pleading with the city to protect them. She says coming into work early or staying late is no longer an option.
"You're walking over—physically over—bodies that are laying there. There's vomit. There's blood," she said.
On Thursday, a MSB worker got an up-close and all-too-personal look at the deteriorating conditions here. She asked that FOX 29 not use her full name as she described her ambush.
"I was on break. Out back on the Arch Street side and somebody threw a plastic bottle and they threw it off the overhang," she said. "It hit the ground—exploded all over. It was urine in the bottle and it went all over my back—all over the back of my legs."
In the face of mounting employee complaints, Philadelphia police are working with the city's white collar union on a plan to upgrade security, help the homeless and make reporting criminal conduct easier.
"Progress is slow,” Captain Sekou Kinebrew said. “It's not instantaneous, but we're hopefully moving in the right direction and hopefully we can get a handle on this and things will get better, over time."
For workers like Karen Foster time is running out.
"I'm not opposed to helping the homeless,” she said. “Everyone needs help. But I'm opposed to coming to work in fear."