Kensington sweep ‘doesn’t make a dent’ but is a start, says City Council member

Councilmember Quetcy Lozada was at K&A as the city cleared encampments Wednesday morning. "I wasn't disappointed,” she said, “I was just concerned.”

Quetcy Lozada

Councilmember Quetcy Lozada in Kensington on the morning of May 8, 2024. (Meir Rinde/WHYY)

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Philadelphia’s sweep of a homeless encampment in Kensington is a start, but deep-seated issues remain. That’s according to Councilmember Quetcy Lozada, who represents the area.

Lozada was at Kensington and Allegheny avenues as the tarps, tents and other shelters were removed from the once-thriving business district, which had been transformed into something of a tent city.

Lozada said many of the people living on the streets in the targeted two-block area had already fled well before social service assistance was made available Wednesday morning.

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“I wasn’t disappointed, I was just concerned that in initiatives like that one, there’s always room for things not to go as planned,” she told WHYY News. “We never expected a downpour. We never expected folks to go away before all of the services that they could have taken advantage of arrived.”

Lozada said city teams fanned out into the surrounding neighborhood and were able to track down many who fled.

“We have over 500 people living on the street. We were successful in bringing 135 people in, that doesn’t make a dent,” Lozada said.

“This is a situation that has taken years to correct, and it’s going to take us a long time to be able to make a difference in that community. But there’s 135 people that are no longer in the street, 135 families that were able to sleep better last night because they know where their loved ones were, and we recognize that we have a lot of work to do.”

Lozada said mornings aren’t the worst time in the troubled neighborhood.

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“Part of our struggles, part of the challenges that we’re experiencing is the after-hours time frame, that is 7 p.m. to 5 in the morning. We’re looking at that. We’re conscious that that is a challenging time for us, and we will figure it out.”

Over half a dozen police officers stayed on site to keep people from returning to the encampment site.

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