Federal judge rules city can clear Philadelphia homeless encampments

A federal judge has ruled on the fate of a homeless encampment along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway where protesters have spent two months calling for policy changes regarding the homeless and low-income housing.

U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno denied the motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction filed by protesters at the encampment. In his ruling Tuesday, he said the city can clear the encampment by reasonable means with 72 hours notice to vacate. The judge is also allowing the city to clear two smaller encampment sites. 

The Parkway encampment has stood on a baseball field on the parkway since June 10 and has grown to an estimated 100 to 150 people.

Philadelphia Housing Action — the coalition of groups that organized the encampment — said it was conceived as a form of political protest over city policies toward the homeless and the lack of low-income housing in the city.

SKYFOX flew over the encampment along the Parkway 

The protesters brought the case into federal court when they filed an injunction to prevent the city from closing the camp earlier this month.

That was the city's second attempt at closing the camp after the mayor postponed a previous closure in July to allow more time to negotiate.

As the injunction was filed, Mayor Kenney had said a notice posted to close the camp was not a requirement. He also said the closure was delayed again to allow to two city councilmembers to negotiate.

Kenney shed some light on those negotiations during a briefing and claimed the city has been willing to meet over 20 of the protesters' demands.

City officials say one of the demands requires immediate permanent housing for everyone at the encampment, though encampment leaders have not identified the number of people within the encampment, or how many are indeed homeless. 

The city says their permanent housing options are limited, and they have instead offered pathways to permanent housing that "thousands of other people take advantage of every year."

According to Kenney, the city has received more than 400 complaints about the encampment and claimed living conditions there have worsened over the weeks.

Despite the impasse, Kenney has said he still wants it to be resolved without a confrontation.


Mayor: Encampment eviction postponed but imminent, as discussions continue

Tent encampment lines Ben Franklin Parkway in protest of lack of long-term housing for homeless


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