Kensington Encampments

Last week was busy, as the evaluation of the City of Philadelphia’s efforts to clear the Kensington homeless encampments was finally released. The City featured it on their landing page and has a more long-term home for it here, where you can download the full report.

I wrote a bit on the project last summer in a blog entry when we finished the preliminary report.

The report generated a good bit of interest in the local media, with the best writeups coming from two journalists who have been following homelessness and opioid use in Kensington for awhile: Joel Wolfram for WHYY and Aubrey Whelan for the Inquirer.

If you are at all interested in encampment clearance, I encourage you to check out our writeup, as it looks at the process of doing this, and outcomes for both the displaced people and the surrounding community, in a level of detail that is, as of now, unprecedented.

I am going to continue to follow up on these clearance efforts, as I am involved in a more general examination of local responses to unsheltered homelessness that is funded by Arnold Ventures in which Barb Poppe and I take a look at eight localities across the US who are engaging in innovative and effective approaches to addressing unsheltered homelessness. This study is ongoing, and one of the sites we focus on is Philadelphia.

I would also like to do some more writing on this that ties in our findings here with my fixation on Philadelphia’s Skid Row back in the 50’s and 60’s. I laid out the basic structure of the parallels between old Skid Row and contemporary Kensington here, and as I’ve gotten more immersed in Kensington I’ve become even more interested in these parallels.

So I look forward to writing more on this.

Stephen Metraux