The homeless people encamped under the I-95 overpass in Port Richmond had all left the area by about 11 a.m. Monday, as ordered by PennDOT. They are still looking for a permanent solution, perhaps a house they could rehab or land on which they can build simple homes.
Paul Klemmer, one of the homeless men, has written two letters about their plight over the past week.
The first letter, dated Nov. 30, was sent to Mayor Nutter, U.S. Rep. Bob Brady and other officials.
The second letter, dated Dec. 4, was sent to Nutter, other city leaders and PennDOT.
The Homeless Encampment at Richmond and Cumberland, Nov. 30
We are not here protesting or to make a statement, We're homeless. We are sick of being forced to exist alone. Sick of being told that shelters - which are not tolerable living facilities for sober people - are an adequate alternative to being "allowed" by the government to work, live and share together to create ... opportunities to provide for ourselves which our troubled economy cannot.
Philadelphia has about 4,000 homeless people and 40,000 empty dwelling units, but, apparently, unless the wealthy can profit by our occupying these dwellings, they would rather see us alone, with our possessions if not stolen by regular criminals, "confiscated" by police, since we have no place to store anything we can't carry and are not allowed to congregate to watch one another's belongings.
To have poverty forced upon us in the land of plenty is no longer a viable solution, if, in fact, it ever was ...
We need the use of at least one abandoned structure, if the law requires it to have water and electricity, the Obama administration provided $21 million dollars to help the homeless, this is a drop in the bucket.
We need an outdoor long-term camping area, close enough to mass transit for us to meet medical, legal, pension and benefits and other needs, and large and separated enough to not disturb our neighbors and start to grow our own food and do art and craftwork, feed one another and see to one another's daily needs.
In this sort of camp, people who get along can meet one another and we can help one another and be helped by those in the community who believe in, rather than merely preach, compassion, to get long-term housing, use our varied skills to rehabilitate abandoned structures as we rehabilitate ourselves and work toward the caring, loving society that many believe we will make happen.
There are many caring people in Philadelphia, whose deeds as well as their words, demonstrate the belief that the present "crisis" is in fact and opportunity to create a land of "Liberty and Justice for All" rather than a land of "Just Us".
Homeless Eviction Plan, Dec. 4
Today we face two closely related crises. The first very immediate need is that of the 20 or so individuals that trusted the Occupy Movement and Interfaith Community to rescue them from the consequences of the Occupation of City Hall and impending renovation there.
The second crisis, an ongoing one, no less immediate because of the season, is the people of Philadelphia's, and America's, willingness to allow armed men and women to prevent the poor from working together to increase their fortune.
With a nail gun, even a butane powered one, and some battery powered tools, I and the skilled carpenters in the camp could create, from recycled materials and donated fasteners, structures like those at Christmas Village, easily disassembled and transported, to see us through the winter.
What's more difficult to create is a sharing, loving community with those who the System has habitually fractured and fragmented. We've come a long way in a short time and formed the core of such a community of shared involvement and responsibility.
We've been conditioned by being forced to exist alone, to grab all we can before someone else does, this alienation suiting the purposes of a status quo which would keep us invisible and blame us for our own misfortunes.
If we find a place to move from here, we need to immediately structure the receiving and distribution of donations in an equitable fashion and create, with guidance from the Interfaith Community, a minimal list of expectations and obligations agreed to by those who would join our community and work toward building solutions, not only for our group, but - at least as an example - for all the needy.
It's been suggested that the churches of the Interfaith Community might provide temporary sanctuary for our small tent community, providing a launching pad for other, longer-term solutions such as acquiring abandoned indoor or outdoor space through legal channels, disappearing into safer spaces or bouncing from church yard to church yard, doing clean up and repairs in the community, inviting community involvement and integrating the homeless within these communities.