Homeless encampment cleared from drug-plagued Philadelphia neighborhood

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Philadelphia police have cleared out a homeless encampment in a city neighborhood where drug use has been pervasive for years, but homeless advocates and others have raised concerns about how it was done.

The effort, which the city called an “encampment resolution,” started around 7 a.m. Wednesday in the Kensington neighborhood and was completed by 10 a.m. People who lived there, along with their tents and other structures, were moved from the sidewalk along a two-block stretch.

City outreach workers had connected 55 encampment residents to housing services in the 30-day period leading up to the clearing, officials said, and four people had been connected to drug and alcohol treatment. It wasn't clear how many people had been living in the area that was cleared.

The sweep was the most visible action that Mayor Cherelle Parker’s administration has taken since she assumed the post in January, as it seeks to end the open-air drug market that has plagued the neighborhood.

City officials said the clearing was done without incident and no arrests were made, but advocates for the homeless and others questioned both the process and what would happen to the displaced residents. Officials had said the clearing would be led by outreach teams, but no city social service workers were on the scene when police began moving out residents.

In previous major encampment clearings in the neighborhood, police did not lead the operations, and outreach workers instead spent hours on the day of the eviction offering residents assistance, such as giving them rides to treatment and shelter sites and helping them store their possessions.