PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The City of Philadelphia continues to dismantle the Benjamin Franklin Parkway homeless encampment. Nearby neighbors are relieved, saying it’s been a long five months.
The city reached an agreement with those living in the encampment on Tuesday. On Friday, it was a much different scene in the public space, which has essentially been closed off to the public.
For the first time in months, dogs played freely at the Von Colln Playground after it reopened.
Ed Dougherty, president of the Logan Square Neighborhood Association, said “it was a rough summer” for multiple reasons. Dougherty said a big factor was the James Talib Dean Homeless Encampment that took over a large public space in the area.
“The encampment is in the dead center of what would constitute our boundaries,” Dougherty said. “In a very hostage kind of way, that would be our way of looking at it, took over this broadly used public space.”
But now that area is once again reopened. On Friday morning, city crew members removed some of the barriers and debris that surrounded the encampment.
“The neighborhood never had an indifference to the issues,” Dougherty said. “What we had was a real disagreement with the tactics.”
Those tactics appear to have worked. Earlier this week, the city reached an agreement between organizers of the encampment and the mayor’s office.
The city will transfer a total of 50 properties to a land trust established by encampment residents. Additionally, Philadelphia officials will create two villages of tiny homes by the end of the year.
The villages will have self-contained units with shared kitchens and bathrooms, which can house up to a dozen people. Those still living here will soon be able to move into more permanent housing.
“It’s just the hard work of helping to place these individuals in the conclusion,” Dougherty said. “But I think it’s the feeling of the neighborhood. We’re clearly seeing activity. It’s clearly going to come to an end.”
Dougherty says the next step for the neighborhood is working with the city to properly clean up and revitalize the area where the encampment stood.
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