PHILADELPHIA - After months of people living in tents along the Parkway and Ridge Avenue, could more permanent housing be in their futures? Is it possible city officials and advocates for the homeless encampment reached a deal?
Monthly, Cookie Bundy sweeps along the 2900 block of Westmont Street in Strawberry Mansion.
“For the kids, I come out and clean up,” Bundy said.
“Do this on your own?” asked FOX 29’s Jeff Cole.
“Yes sir,” Bundy replied.
On the narrow block sit boarded homes that encampment organizers say the Philadelphia Housing Authority has offered as possible housing for the homeless now living in tents at two sites in the city.
But, there’s a problem.
“If the city and the PHA want to show us units that are falling apart, that wealthy developers don’t want to mess with, it’s not going to be such an easy process,” explained Jennifer Bennetch, with Occupy PHA.
An advocate for the homeless, Bennetch says the Westmont homes are part of a group of 50 the city and PHA offered on Friday in what she and others say is a “tentative deal” to possibly close the sprawling homeless encampments on the Ben Franklin Parkway and Ridge Avenue.
“We’re going to give the city and the PHA a list of units we have already inspected, because they want a quick end to the encampments. But if they’re giving us bad units, that’s not possible,” Bennetch added.
Homeless advocates say talks began last Monday and moved through the week with the homes offered growing from 15 to 25 and finally 50.
But, the city isn’t buying in to any “tentative deal,” a spokesperson writing Monday there’s “…no final agreement…”
“…negotiations are still ongoing…”
“There’s thousands of homeless people in Philadelphia and has been for years. I’m surprised it’s taken this long for someone to make a radical, direct action solution,” stated Scout Gipson, with Lives in the Encampment.
Back on Westmont, Cookie Bundy is ready for new neighbors, even if the houses are not.
“They’re here, but they’re not livable. They need work. It would be good to fix them up rather than tear them down,” Bundy commented.
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