NORTH PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) - More than a dozen people were forced out of two North Philadelphia homes Friday, homes they’ve lived in for weeks and say they fixed up.
The problem is the Philadelphia Housing Authority owns those homes. Officials were on hand Friday to clear everyone out.
On the North Philadelphia street, a woman wept. Others gathered their belongings, while some just watched a crew from the Philadelphia Housing Authority cut plywood and board up the two homes on Sharswood Street.
“We fixed up the house. We painted it. We put money into it, we turned on the electricity, we did everything. We made it nice and stuff. Just livable for us,” said activist Brandon Johnson.
According to city land records, the houses are owned by the PHA – the city’s largest landlord – housing low income residents.
The group of about 15, who say they were part of the ICE immigration protest at City Hall, says it found 2320 and 2322 Sharswood empty two weeks ago, so they moved in and started repairs.
They say photos taken show what it looked like when they got there and what it is now.
“Now there’s a full bathroom. There’s a full floor, a living room,” said activist Trenae Jones.
“But, you’re out?” asked FOX 29’s Jeff Cole.
“It’s an actual living space. We weren’t squatters,” Jones replied.
But, the PHA thought they were.
Group leaders say they received a notice to vacate from the PHA on Wednesday. Friday morning, they were made to leave.
A truck was filled with some of what PHA found and driven off, while belongings were scattered in a lot across the street.
Security at PHA headquarters say staff went home at 1 p.m. Friday for the holiday and there would be no comment.
The activists say they’re simply trying to make things better.
“This place was found a couple of weeks ago. People started moving in and fixing up the place since we’ve been here. The goal has been to have a positive impact,” said activist Tina Mascitti.