UC Townhomes property owners pursuing ‘legal remedies’ to break up protest encampment

A statue is shown wearing a T-shirt.

A statue in front of University City Townhomes is outfitted with a shirt associated with the encampment. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

After more than three weeks, protestors remain at the encampment outside of University City Townhomes in West Philadelphia.

Residents and activists have been protesting the potential sale and redevelopment of the complex after it was announced last year the owners would not renew their HUD contract with the federal government. The encampment has been set for removal following a court order, but residents say they will continue to protect the site.

In an email from the Save the UC Townhomes Coalition to WHYY, the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Department posted notices for the encampment to vacate this past Friday.

“Our understanding is that if we are still there tomorrow [Monday] the owner will have to return to court to compel the sheriff to evict,” the coalition said. “We are not sure how long that may take or when the sheriff may come.”

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IBID Associates is looking to remove residents and advocates protesting at the West Philadelphia housing complex. In an email to WHYY, spokesperson Kevin Feeley says the property owners filed an ejectment action to remove the trespassers from the property, and the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas issued an Order on the 27th.

“As the Order makes clear, the trespassers have no legal right to remain on the property, and their presence raises significant public safety and liability issues. The owners will pursue their legal remedies to secure the removal of the trespassers from the property.”

WHYY has reached out to the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Department and is still awaiting a response.

On July 9, the coalition and supporters marched through University City, featuring chants like “Housing is a human right” and “We ain’t going nowhere.” The encampment at the property began soon after.

Residents say they have been deprived of rental services since it began, such as the laundry room and office both being closed.

The townhomes are situated in University City, what was once a majority-Black neighborhood known as the Black Bottom. Concerns over gentrification have risen over time as the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University have expanded their campuses.

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Located on Market Street between 39th and 40th streets, the UC Townhomes property houses 70 units that for 40 years were offered as federally subsidized housing.

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