PHILADELPHIA - Mayor Kenney on Thursday said the city will postpone its plan to close a protest encampment that has gathered near Benjamin Franklin Parkway for the last several weeks.
Kenney will instead meet with the camp's representatives sometime next week to continue ongoing dialogue. According to the mayor, a mutual resolution has been the preferred outcome.
"We appreciate their willingness to engage in productive dialogue, and I’m hopeful that we will reach a peaceful resolution soon," Kenney said.
Dozens of tents have lined the Benjamin Franklin Parkway near 22nd Street for several weeks in protest of a lack of long-term housing for Philadelphia's homeless population.
Last week, the city told protesters they had until July 17th to vacate the area due to due to mounting public health and safety concerns that affect both the residents of the encampment and the surrounding community.
The city pointed to a number of issues in the negotiation process, including a "lack of clarity on who speaks for the group" and a "shifting list of demands." City officials also say the protesters had made demands for things outside of "its purview."
However, nearly a week later, the mayor's office says a homelessness outreach program called “Homeless Connect" has helped seventeen find services from partnering outreach programs.
We’re pleased that over the past few days, seventeen placements, including two couples, to safe havens, recovery housing and shelter, have occurred, on top of the seventeen placements of older adults and people with disabilities into the COVID Prevention Space,” Director of the City’s Office of Homeless Services Liz Hersh said.
Officials added that further assistance could be provided if outreach representatives could enter the encampment and speak directly to the homeless individuals and families.
“This demonstration activity casts an important light on the racial inequities in our society that impact homelessness and frankly have informed inadequate solutions," Kenney said.
"Our Administration shares the belief that policy failures for generations have brought us to this point, and we are committed to enacting meaningful reforms that help keep people in their homes, expand affordable housing, and improve pathways to home ownership in the City of Philadelphia – especially for communities of color.”
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