What to Know
- Protesters living in camps along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Ridge Avenue and Kelly Drive must leave by Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020, city officials said.
- The city asked the protesters to leave the camps twice before, but let the deadlines lapse to avoid a confrontation. Last week, a federal judge ruled the city could evict them.
- The protesters have demanded fair housing practices and asked for the city to provide housing for those experiencing homelessness. The city said it has offered housing and is developing additional programs to provide more support.
For a third time, Philadelphia is asking people living in large protest camps in and around Center City to vacate, but now they have the backing of a federal court to evict protesters if they don't leave on their own.
City officials on Monday formally notified people protesting housing insecurity and homelessness to leave the camps by Sept. 9 at 9 a.m. The camps are located in a park across from the Barnes Museum along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, along Ridge Avenue outside the Philadelphia Housing Authority’s North Philadelphia headquarters and at the Azalea Garden near the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Last week, a federal judge in Philadelphia said the city had the right to disband the camps so long as the occupants were given 72 hours notice. With this latest decree, the city is giving nine days notice.
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Mayor Jim Kenney said the camps, which have grown and shrunk over the past few weeks, must shut down due to health and safety concerns voiced by health officials and neighborhood residents. Around 230 people are living in the camps, city officials said.
“We have spent nearly three months engaging in good faith negotiations with organizers and those who are living in the camps. We’ve listened, discussed, and responded to their demands, and I’m proud of a number of actions that are already underway," Kenney said in part in a statement issued Monday morning.
Organizers have given city officials a number of demands (which are posted online along with the city's response to each item) including permanent housing for hundreds of homeless people both at the camps and across Philadelphia.
The Mayor's Office said 111 people have accepted housing through the city's homeless services unit since the camp began. The city will continue to offer temporary housing via 260 hotel rooms set up for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Other changes include developing a tiny house village in a section of the city. Tiny houses are small, single room homes that can be used as transitional housing. Similar programs have seen success across the country.
The city is also creating a rapid rehousing program offering up to to years of rental assistance for people who are homeless.
The city twice asked the protesters to vacate the camps – most recently setting an Aug. 18 deadline. At the time, the protesters were poised to fight back against a eviction. NBC10 cameras captured protesters running defense drills using modified traffic barriers as a wall to keep out intruders.
Both times, the city let the camps continue to operate while negotiating with organizers hoping to avoid a confrontation. Meanwhile, complaints from homeowners in Fairmount, Logan Square and Sharswood mounted. The city said it received more than 400 complaints from residents since the protesters set up camp.
"We have listened to the encampment leaders long enough. It is time for me to listen to the residents of the Sharswood community that have asked me to begin construction of the long awaited grocery store. While in a pandemic, Philadelphia simply can’t continue to allow large gatherings that heighten health risks for these at risk communities," Kelvin A. Jeremiah, President and CEO of the Philadelphia Housing Authority, said in part in the city's statement.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.