Streets of Kensington battle for basic cleanliness

One look at the homes along the 3000 block of Martha street in Philadelphia's Kensington neighborhood tells you people here care about their neighborhood. But on the corner where Martha meets Commissioner Street things get ugly--fast.

A homeowner emailed FOX 29's Bruce Gordon, asking that he come out and take a look at the mess.

The pile had been growing for days, but it's just the latest to befoul the block.

"People even throw out dead animals," said Joey Hudicek, whose family lives just across the street from the trash. "Put them in bags and just dump them off. It reeks. It's terrible."

Sometimes, Gordon finds it's better to be lucky than good. Just two blocks away, he happened to notice a city waste crew-- they call it the "complaint truck"-- wading through used condoms and other garbage to clear a stretch of side street.

"Martha and Commissioner" was not on their Friday to-do list, so Gordon asked for a quick favor:

"Any chance you guys can swing by there an clean it up?"

They were kind enough to oblige, and five minutes later, they were hard at work making a molehill out of this mountain.

While they worked, Gordon talked, to neighbors tired of fighting a losing battle against trash-- some of it tossed illegally, by outsiders.

William Johnson described the scavengers looking for scrap metal and leaving behind an even bigger mess.

"On garbage day," says Johnson, "you'll have waves of people coming by in pickup trucks and vans and whatever and they'll just rip open the bags, looking for a couple cans."

And there are the heroin addicts, driven through this block by the clean-up of the city ordered clean-up of the Conrail tracks not far away.

"Every morning. I'm cleaning at least 20 of them up," says Rachel Cikanovich, a nearby block captain. "Drug needles."

Inside of 15 minutes, the corner of Martha and Commissioner was cleaned and the waste crew was on their way.

The people in this neighborhood appreciated FOX 29's help, but are under no illusion that the problem is fully solved.

Gordon asked Joey Hudicek whether he expected that trash pile to return.

"Of course," he replied. "Within another week."