(updated March 5, 2020)
Below is some, but not all of what we have accomplished. We call 911 every day several times because it became clear to us that the police donít do anything unless someone complains. We assume thatís because they donít want to be accused of harassing people, but frankly it means that we have to do their job for them. We found that simply calling 911 and 311 is not enough (i.e., Homeless Outreach & CDC). And often, the local management of franchises are also not responsive. So, instead we go to the top and contact the heads of various government departments, local businesses, and franchises in our area. We have gone on enumerable personal visits, sent emails, and made phone calls to countless CEOs, business owners, and security personnel in the area. And we would like you to do the same!
We have spoken at City
Council meetings on several occasions -
We have had meetings with
Councilman Squilla at his office and sent numerous emails with photos to
demonstrate the situation to Mayor Kenney and City Council. Present at the
Squilla meetings were several people, including Liz Hersh, Director of the
Department of Homeless Services, representatives of the PPD, Streets, and
We have met with Chief Nestel
of the SEPTA Transit Police, at which time they began to remove the seating at
bus stops in the Market Street and 13-12th Street, which solved a
lot of problems with vagrants. At our suggestion, SEPTA also installed gates
at two subway entrances at 1 South Broad Street, one of which had become an
overnight haven for the homeless.
Several months ago, the
homeless started to sleep up against City Hall. We sent an email to Mayor
Kenney and City Council President Darrell Clarke informing them of the
security situation, immediately after which the problem was solved.
In the fall of 2019, we sent
the Mayor and City Council a video of the encampment on S. Vine Street,
between 17th and 18th Streets. Months later (February 2020) it finally got
dismantled, permanently we hope.
In the case of Washington
Square last summer, after being initially discouraged by Park officials, we
wrote letters to the Secretary of the Interior and Director of the National
Park Service and received lengthy and positive responses. Now,
Washington Square Park is no
longer being used as a homeless encampment.
We put a lot of energy into
cleaning up Ludlow Street between 11th and 10th Street,
which has become a homeless encampment. We were in frequent contact with
Squilla, the District Manager of the CVS, and met with local charter schoolís
principal. It took months to clean it up because of the cityís murky
We made repeated calls to the
corporate offices of Chipotle because of a persistent panhandler at 12th
and Walnut, eventually we had success.
At our request, through
Councilmember Squilla's office, steam vent covers were installed over street
vents across the street from the Reading Terminal Market, which had become a
haven for the homeless.
We recently managed to have
the homeless man at a cafť on Locust and Board Streets removed after
months of effort. We also contacted the corporate
office of a upscale restaurant chain on South Broad Street regarding the
near-constant presence of a panhandler, after which the problem was solved.
We have also spokes with Starbucks officials about some of their locations which have become problematic, particularly Pine and S. Broad, which had become a homeless encampment. They were very understanding and had been touring those very facilities at the time we spoke. We hope to work together on a larger, more fundamental and permanent solution to this problem.
All that said, many of these problems would be solved if the city would provide shelter and services to these special needs groups, as well as enforce the law under Titles 9 & 10.
Contact: Lynn and Cliff Landes / LynnLandes@gmail.com / Center City, Philadelphia