Blog NKCDC One year ago, Kensington came together and made positive change

A year ago, Kensington residents notched an important victory for collective action and positive change in Kensington. 

On March 19, 2021, after no consultation with Kensington residents, SEPTA announced an “indefinite” closure of the Somerset El station due to unsafe working conditions and deterioration of the station from human waste and needles.

That El stop is a critical source of transportation for Kensington and Port Richmond. Residents, civic groups, faith communities, nonprofits, and city councilmembers organized in solidarity with SEPTA workers to demand “Safety and Solutions.” They asked for solutions that addressed the station’s underlying challenges so that the station could remain open and its problems would not simply be pushed into the surrounding neighborhoods or other SEPTA stations.

On March 23, over 200 people marched from the closed Somerset Station to Allegheny Station to call attention to the issues of homelessness, substance use disorder, and poverty that caused the station to close. The march was followed by Al Día News, Generocity, Metro Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Plan Philly, and The Star, as well as CBS 3, NBC 10, NYW News Radio, and Univision 65.

Within two weeks the station was open again as repairs continued.

“This was a significant win for the community,” said NKCDC Executive Director Dr. Bill McKinney. “Residents, civic groups, and nonprofits stood up together and won this battle. It went from ‘indefinite’ closure, to four or five weeks, to two weeks. The biggest variable was the amount of noise people made.”

Cass Green, coordinator of the We CAN community safety collaborative, talks to press.
On March 23, 2021, over 200 residents marched for positive changes in Kensington
Gloria “Smooches” Cartagena is a force for positive change in Kensington
All photos: Rodney Mobley / NKCDC

Media coverage

Kensington community responds to SEPTA closing down Somerset Station
Kensington Voice, March 29, 2021

Mayor Kenney’s lack of involvement in Somerset El closure isn’t just a transit issue. It’s a leadership failure.
Philadelphia Inquirer, March 28, 2021

Shuttered El stop illuminates depth of Philly’s entrenched social problems
Philadelphia Inquirer, March 28, 2021

SEPTA: Somerset station will see “a number of safety and security improvements” upon reopening
The Star, March 25, 2021

Kensington residents and nonprofits mobilize to protest SEPTA station closure
Generocity, March 24, 2021

Kensington residents call for change following Somerset closure
Metro Philadelphia, March 24, 2021

Kensington Residents March for Better Conditions As SEPTA Station Remains Closed
NBC 10 Philadelphia, March 24, 2021

Neighbors demand better communication, resources from SEPTA following closure of Kensington station (audio)
NYW News Radio, March 24, 2021

Residentes de Kensington protestan por el cierre de la estación de Somerset (video)
Univision 65 Philadelphia, March 24, 2021

‘Unacceptable’: Kensington residents protest closing of SEPTA’s Somerset Station after one week notice
Al Día, March 24, 2021

‘We shouldn’t have to get less’: Kensington residents protest Somerset Station closure (video)
PlanPhilly, March 24, 2021

Kensington Community ‘Disinvested In For The Last 40 Years’ Protest SEPTA Closing Somerset Station (video)
CBS 3 Philadelphia, March 23, 2021

Kensington protests closing of SEPTA’s Somerset El station, a lifeline for a battered neighborhood
Philadelphia Inquirer, March 23, 2021

Kensington residents share concerns about Somerset Station closure with SEPTA
Plan Philly, March 19, 2021

At NKCDC, we believe that community development can and should benefit all residents. Join us as a force for positive change in Kensington.

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