Workers clean out last major homeless encampment in Kensington

City officials shut down and cleaned out the last of four major homeless encampments in Kensington, known as Emerald City.
Photo credit Tim Jimenez/KYW Newsradio
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — City officials shut down the last of four major homeless encampments in the Kensington section of Philadelphia Thursday morning, known as Emerald City. 

The tents, tattered furniture and other dreary conditions along Emerald Street near Lehigh Avenue have been a symbol of the powerful grip of opioids. 

Harry Tapia, who lives nearby, said something had to be done for the neighborhood.

"Dealing with all of the violence and unsanitary conditions has really affected the quality of life," he said, adding, "Nobody should be living in those conditions in the cold."

Police officers, homeless outreach workers and city officials tried to get the people who were living in these conditions to a safer place. Police officials say they cleared the encampment peacefully and most of the 45 people were taken to a shelter or a place to get treatment for their addiction. 

Happening Now: City crews are clearing out the “Emerald City” Homeless Encampment in Kensington. @KYWNewsradio

— Tim Jimenez (@TimJRadio) January 31, 2019

Crews started to clear the tents, furniture and anything else left behind at the “Emerald City” encampment. @KYWNewsradio

— Tim Jimenez (@TimJRadio) January 31, 2019

Once they were gone, city crews tossed the tents and the stuff left behind in trash trucks.

Although the encampment is closed, Liz Hersh, the city's director of the Office of Homeless Services, said their work doesn't end.

"Food, clothing, water, drug and mental health treatment, case management, transport to the emergency room, medical care or housing assistance," she said, "we will continue to do this." 

.@PPDJoeSullivan says there were 45 people at “Emerald City” last night into this morning and the majority of them will be staying at a shelter. Says police will be patrolling the Harrowgate neighborhood to make sure there aren’t any pop-up encampments. @KYWNewsradio

— Tim Jimenez (@TimJRadio) January 31, 2019

Dante Jones used to live in Emerald City, but after outreach, he decided to get help. He hopes others will get on the road to recovery.

"I know for me it was hard," he admitted. "It was a hard road being out there. I just want to thank everybody who's been a part of helping me and helping my friends out there."