Kensington Avenue Cleared and Cleaned…For Now

by Alex Lloyd Gross

Kensington Avenue near Allegheny Avenue has not looked this clean since the last time there was a Kensington Initiative. Homeless encampments, were removed and trash was cleaned from the streets. By noon, the area looked clean. By 12:15 PM, homeless people started to come back with their belongings. They did not set up camp but they were there.

The idea was to get them off the streets and into shelters and treatment centers. You cannot force people to get help and many, being used to life on the streets see rehabilitation and treatment as a daunting obstacle. Some of these people have little to no education and have never worked.

After tents were taken down and people rounded up to speak with counselors, street sweepers came down cleaning the area. It does look good. It’s a far cry from what it looked like at 6:00 AM. Critics say that the city is just pushing them into the neighborhood streets, where they are not as visible. Several people were seen on Shelboune Street with carts filled with personal belongings. This street is 25 feet off of Kensington Avenue.

The city blocked off six hours of time to get this done. It was completed in less than four hours. Most of the businesses along the 3100- 3000 blocks of Kensington Avenue have been abandoned. 30 years ago, clothing stores and small restaurants were staples of the Avenue. They are long gone, replaced with empty stores, or cell phone stores where all of the merchandise is locked away.

Alex Lloyd Gross Photo-Delaware Valley

Police Bike Patrol rides down Kensington Avenue

No person in their right mind would open a store there and take the chance of another homeless drug encampment being set up in front of their shop.. Prospective customers do not want to park their cars, to take a chance they will be broken into, and have to step over or around a crackhead camped out in front of a store.

When someone is arrested for being on drugs, the court can mandate treatment. Now that they are released, they have nowhere to go except back to the area they came from, in front of the vacant store on the 3000 block of Kensington Avenue.

Alex Lloyd Gross Photo-Delaware Valley A Street Sweeper passes through the K&A intersection

Mayor Parker’s office did not say what happens to those rounded up that refuse treatment or shelters. Police said they will keep a detail there for the immediate future. This problem, experts say is not fixed with a band-aid solution and a street sweeper every 10 years.