Residents fed up with needles littering the streets

PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) A longtime resident filled a jar with drug needles found on his block during a 20 minute search. Philly's Kensington neighborhood has its share of problems: crime, poverty and and drugs. Heroin in particular. And what drug users are leaving behind has parents worried about their children's safety.

FOX 29's Bruce Gordon has the story.

The Federal Drug Enforcement Agency reported this week that deaths by heroin overdose more than tripled from 2010 to 2014-- to more than 10,000 per year. The DEA figures did not include the number of neighborhoods killed along with those drug users.

Bill Richardson likely considers his block to be a casualty. Bill, his wife and two children-- ages 7 and 8-- live near Jasper Street and East Willard in Philadelphia's Kensington neighborhood.

Last Saturday, he took a 20 minute walk up and down his street, and filled a good-sized jar with drug needles left behind by the junkies who frequent the neighborhood when the sun sets.

"It blew my mind," Richardson told FOX 29. "This whole strip here is basically a shooting gallery."

Four days after Richardson's collection effort, FOX 29 traveled the same few blocks and found many more used needles littering the streets and sidewalks.

It wasn't always this way. Years ago, the neighborhood was full of factories and jobs, but when those factories closed, says Richardson, "it (the neighborhood) just went to hell."

Philly police are able to do little more than roust the drug users from one block to another, says Maggie Diaz, a mother of six with four kids still living at home with her.

"They close one corner and they open another corner. It's a shame."

Marvin Collins is a longtime Kensington resident who knows drug use and its consequences. He's a former crack addict-- now clean for more than a decade.

"I'm not here to be a judgmental person, but at the end of the day, it's about our little ones," he explained.

"You tell your kids not to touch them, but you've got little ones that are curious," said Vivian Howard. Her daughter and grandchildren live in this neighborhood. "Touch that stick (and) you don't know what that child has. So, it's rough."

And, for many, unavoidable. Bill Richardson says he'd love to move his wife and two young children out of this drug-infested nightmare. But he's been here for years and remains hopeful it can be turned around. Besides, he says, "financially. I'm not stable enough to move. So we're basically trapped here, in this environment."

Heroin is killing users. And-- slowly, but surely-- entire neighborhoods. Bill Richardson proved that in just 20 minutes.