Last night in North Philly, on 19th & Oxford street, the site that the city planned to move unhoused individuals into today Wednesday, December 30th was targeted.
The unhoused individuals are currently staying in “Covid hotels” at the Holiday Inn on 13th and Walnut streets for shelter from the pandemic and cold. City government says they’ve run out of funding and can no longer house them here, but we know that’s not true. The city wants to save money and alternatively use the site to shelter housed and employed people suffering from covid. Yet another instance of the city further displacing unhoused people and prioritizing the privileged.
We’ve had enough of the bullshit and the runaround. We’ve had enough of orgs that hardly show up or don’t make proactive and decisive moves. We have decided to act autonomously and will continue to.
The slow trickle of evictions started on December 15th when advocates began to post up outside the hotel and distribute donations to residents and friends on the streets.
Mayor Kenney, in an attempt to ward off bad press, put out statements to the effect of “do not be concerned, the hotel residents will be situated with permanent housing, we will not be kicking people out on the street.” Spewing his usual bullshit, he is interested only in saving face and assuring liberals they need not be concerned or called to action. Meanwhile, some hotel residents were moved to an unused former PRISON in Kensington that same week — an interesting take on “permanent housing.”
The recent snow fall and protests have delayed planned evictions. However, nothing concrete has changed. We’re tired of pushing meekly against the force of those in power, of doing nothing more than creating delays. Delays that temporarily disrupt the plans city officials still intend to carry out when we become fatigued and distracted. Despite the protests, another eviction notice was issued this week. Today marked the last day residents were apparently going to be permitted to stay in the hotel.
The site at 19th & Oxford, where they were expected to be transferred, appears to be a detention center of sorts. Word on the street is that it does not have hot water, some units may not have heat & the residents were going to be roomed in pairs. The point is this situation is abhorrent.
The city treats unhoused residents like undesirables they mean to discard of. They prioritize saving minimal amounts of money at the expense of the most vulnerable, marginalized Philadelphians— most of whom have existing health issues, adding to the stress and trauma they already endure by being unhoused. Our neighbors are not disposable. They should not be shuffled around from place to place, often without understanding where they’re going or what the conditions they’re walking into will be.
All attempts at negotiating with the city for better treatment have failed and been full of deceit on behalf of city officials… no fucking surprise. We have been too gentle in our modes of feedback. Protests have received media attention and some public support, but none of this is stopping the city from making their moves.
We all know this city loves and hoards its property. We need to “dialogue” with them in a language they understand or at least can’t ignore. Instead of waiting for the city to move people into the Oxford building, last night anarchists rolled up to sabotage the locks, graffiti the building and smash about 20 large windows and the glass door entrance.
Liz Hersh, the Office of Homeless Services, Resources for Human Development and Mayor Kenney have been addressed in paint. No one should be mistaken about the intention behind the actions. The media will surely spin its usual narratives, but we are not interested in letting the anticipation of their words influence or silence ours.
We did our thing. We said our piece.