On August 11, 2021, Philadelphia City Council held a public hearing at Lewis Elkin Middle School to address unsafe living conditions in Kensington. Kensington Voice reported that at least six dozen Kensington community members marched through Clearfield and D Streets to the hearing, shouting “Where is Jim Kenney?” Afterward, a coalition of neighborhood groups summarized concerns and solutions that had been voiced at the meeting, and sent the summary to Mayor Kenney. The group pledged to continue to organize and include additional voices to bring light to “the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the community” and identify sustainable solutions they expect the Kenney administration to address. This is a February 2022 update of that summary.
Photo: Erin Blewett for Kensington Voice
February 11, 2022
In our meetings with you this last year we presented you with a list of immediately actionable requests that was meant be a concise list of the issues we expect your administration to immediately address and to serve as a guide for addressing resident concerns. We have begun a process of intensive community input to update our list and ensure that it continues to be an accurate guidepost for action by the administration. Many items remain unchanged, but residents have given specific input on how to prioritize these items and you will find them listed in order of priority for residents. You will also see additions under many of the bulletpoints. We will continue to revise as we continue our community input process and will bring updates as needed to best reflect the needs and concerns of Kensington residents.
- Eliminate Kensington as destination for narcotics use and support the reunification processes for those from outside of the area.
- Stop the cycle of in-migration by people coming specifically to use narcotics in Kensington and re-establish norms that protect the vulnerable families and children living in the community.
- Get better understanding of who are those who are unhoused and using in Kensington
- Identify Beacon House equivalent (quality treatment/housing facility) in every council district in the city and begin connecting individuals to services in their home districts.
- Identify and address new and existing encampments and work to resolve in an expedited time frame.
- Parks and Rec Centers are immediately designated and enforced as safe spaces for children and families.
- Enforce guidelines created by working group over the summer of 2021 which are already standard throughout city including, no consumption of drugs and alcohol, no camping, no use of these spaces after stated closing times.
- Parks and Rec Centers such as McVeigh, Hope, Hissey, Scanlon, McPherson, Harrowgate will be immediately addressed as they are not currently meeting the above standards.
- Build on strategies that have been effective in maintaining the park as a drug-free space over the last few months to recreate boundaries expected in all other city parks.
- Sanitation and usability of public spaces (sidewalks and parks) in Kensington is given priority.
- Sidewalks are kept clear of obstructions, including encampments, trash, and anything that would cause residents and others to be unable to use the sidewalk
- Coordinate with SEPTA to ensure that their spaces are held to the same standards.
- Trash removal is increased to necessary frequency to address current conditions.
- Create a prevention strategy to stop trash from being thrown and dumped in our neighborhood, embracing novel ideas as needed to ensure that trash is not dumped here.
- Feces is cleaned up within 24 hours of report to 311.
- Establish a concise reporting mechanism (i.e. dashboard) to demonstrate progress on implementation of actions listed above.
- Provide Housing for all.
- Give appropriate housing resources to all who need them whether they are under housed or unhoused, while tracking utilization.
- Payment procedures for housing providers are on a per-diem basis only
- Creation of a family reunification program for people experiencing homeless in Kensington
- Short term needs and capacity assessment of current state of housing system available to people in Kensington and beyond.
- Provide Treatment for all.
- Immediately remove identified barriers to treatment engagement such as non-essential pre-inpatient treatment medical clearance, etc., along with lack of housing and other basic needs to practically and meaningfully engage in outpatient treatment.
- Ensure that all providers are fully adhering to the elimination of the smoking ban.
- Payment procedures for treatment on a per-diem basis only