A judge ruled this week that a cluster of tents outside townhouses in the college town should be demolished and the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office can break up the camp as early as Monday morning.
Still, residents and activists are confident the fight to save the affordable housing complex will continue, Billy Penn reported.
“We tried to get a meeting with the owner, but he doesn’t want to meet us,” said resident Amira Brown. “So that’s what we have to do.”
She lived in the 40th and Market Street complex for 19 years and raised her grandchildren there. The family is one of approximately 70 people who live on the property. Most are black or Hispanic.
For nearly four decades, owner IBID Associates has had a contract with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide affordable housing.
But last summer the company said it planned to end the contract and sell the property so it could be redeveloped, which would displace its current residents. They must leave their homes by September 7.
The city is currently scrambling to find suitable alternative housing, but some residents are unimpressed with what they have been shown so far.
“A lot of them are in tough neighborhoods and some of them have holes in the ceilings and walls, I can’t believe they show us stuff like that,” Darlene Foreman told FOX29.
Brown told the outlet that she receives about $830 a month in rent through a housing voucher, but has so far found no affordable housing in Philadelphia.
The city already has a shortage of affordable housing, and many landlords won’t accept vouchers like Brown’s.
There also aren’t many affordable housing options in neighborhoods like University City, which has good access to grocery stores, health centers, and a library.
West Philadelphia has seen a lot of new housing and other development in recent years, but gentrification isn’t new to the neighborhood.
The townhouses are one of the last remnants of the “Black Bottom,” a historic working-class African-American neighborhood that has been almost entirely consumed by the expansion of Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania.
This article has been modified after its initial publication.