CARLO STOOD at attention on the corner of Vine Street near 19th last week and saluted as former President Jimmy Carter's Secret Service caravan drove away from a book signing at the Free Library.

Carlo, who gave his first and last name as Carlo - "Everybody just knows me as Carlo" - didn't know who was in the large black SUVs with the tinted windows and flashing lights.

It didn't matter.

"I always salute for government officials," he said.

The empty patch of grassy land where Carlo salutes passing officials is his front yard, his back yard and his bed - his slice of the American dream.

"This is my home," Carlo said, pointing to some pieces of cardboard and bags on the ground. "This is my house."

One dignitary Carlo may not be saluting on the nearby Benjamin Franklin Parkway later this year is Pope Francis.

Although security for Pope Francis' visit is still in flux, talks of a fence, metal detectors, a crowd of two million and a security sweep that will force everyone off the parkway have many homeless people who live on the parkway - and some of the providers who serve free meals there - on edge.

On Monday, a homeless man who tried to approach Mayor Nutter with concerns about the homeless during the papal visit wrestled with one of the mayor's security guards. The 56-year-old man, George Creamer, was eventually released without being arrested.

In his time as pope, Francis has been an outspoken advocate for the poor, homeless and disenfranchised, but his appearances on the parkway may displace the poor, homeless and disenfranchised who live there and are served free meals there.

While nobody plans to bus the homeless off to a resort, as the Filipino government did with nearly 500 of its homeless residents when Pope Francis visited Manila, one provider said if the homeless and hungry are pushed off the parkway during the papal visit, it would be "like a slap in the pope's face."

Standing in a food line on the parkway on Monday, 37-year-old Andre Watkins Sr., who said he had been homeless for just a few days, thought Pope Francis would want to see the work of the nonprofit group serving the food, Philly Restart, and the long line of people in need.

"I think Francis would want to see this but . . . I guarantee the authorities will make this a nonexistent thing during the pope's visit," Watkins said. "I'm telling you, our homeless population, what they're going do to them is what Francis would not want: They're going to make them homeless again. Where are you going to push them to? And if they refuse to go, what are you going to do?"

Adam Bruckner, who runs Philly Restart, said he thinks it's symbolic that Pope Francis will speak on the parkway, where, just three years ago, the city tried to get groups like his to stop serving food to the hungry and homeless.

"He will stand on the same spot where people have fought to serve others food," Bruckner said. "Those long lines of people are in the same spot where those long lines of people are going to be cheering for the pope when he speaks about how we can care for the poor."

Awful poverty rate

Given that Pope Francis is an advocate for the poor, perhaps there is no more appropriate city for him to visit on his first trip to the United States than Philadelphia, which has a staggering 26 percent poverty rate, the highest poverty rate of any of the nation's 10 largest cities.

The plight of Philadelphia's neediest citizens was not lost on World Meeting of Families organizers. Among the World Meeting of Families' 15 committees one stands out: the Hunger and Homelessness Committee.

Donna Crilley Farrell, executive director of the World Meeting of Families, said caring for the hungry and homeless is a "real pastoral priority" for Pope Francis and for World Meeting of Families organizers as well.

"The mission of the church has always been to care for those less fortunate. We have, in Pope Francis, a model of how to care for the less fortunate," Farrell said. "Not only did we have a responsibility to have a committee like this to make sure the homeless are cared for, but we wanted his visit to have a long-term impact as well."

World-renowned homeless advocate and Project HOME president Sister Mary Scullion was asked to chair the committee.

"It's a joy and a privilege," Scullion said. "It's awesome to be a part of being challenged to implement the vision of Pope Francis."

The Hunger and Homelessness Committee's three-pronged approach to implement Pope Francis' vision includes a fundraising drive, a legislative campaign and an art project.

The committee is also one of the groups discussing how the poor and homeless can be included in Pope Francis' visit - and how they may be affected by it.

Scullion said she requested tickets for the hungry and homeless to papal events and Farrell said organizers will accommodate that request.

"It is important that they are represented and can be a part of the pope's healing love," Farrell said. "You want to make sure the people he really speaks to from his heart would get to see him and that won't always be easy so we have to be purposeful about it."

Unfortunately, little can be known about how the papal visit will impact the homeless along the parkway until the Secret Service and the city release their plans.

Robert Hoback, spokesman for the Secret Service, said security for the pope's visit is still being developed and no specific information is available yet on fencing, metal detectors or a security sweep prior to the papal visit that would force everyone off the parkway.

"Rest assured, folks are aware of concerns people have in regards to the homeless: where they will get free meals and where or if they will be relocated. All that's being taken into consideration," Hoback said.

Scullion said she understood the need for high security and added that homeless individuals will have every right to return to the parkway through secure entrances after a sweep occurs.

"What that fence represents, unfortunately, is in today's world terrorism and acts of violence are very, very real and the threat is real," she said. "We are cooperating . . . because we want our community to be a safe community and this to be an event that welcomes people from all walks of life, including those that are homeless."

Carol Thomas, director of homeless services for Project HOME, said beginning next week, outreach teams will head to the parkway and throughout Center City to talk with the homeless about how the pope's visit may affect them.

"It's our job to get out there and hit the streets, to spread the word," Thomas said. "It's our job to inform people that they may not be able to bring their belongings in through the gates and to give them a choice of whether or not they would like to be in an area that will have high security."

One of the outreach team members is David Brown, 60, who lived on the parkway for 25 years before going to Project HOME three years ago.

"My thing is that you've got this world leader coming here and you shouldn't hide the homeless - he's for that. He'd want to speak to them," Brown said. "We have the outreach team, we're going to go out and warn them. We just want to make it better for them."

Drop it from helicopter

When Brown was living on the parkway, he knew Brian Jenkins, director of Chosen 300 Ministries, as "The Chicken Man."

That's because every Saturday for 19 years - rain, shine or holiday - Jenkins and his crew have been out at 16th and the parkway, serving free roasted chicken meals to about 300 people.

Jenkins worries that the papal visit may displace the estimated 100-to-200 people who live along the parkway and the Saturday meals he serves.

"If the homeless are pushed off the parkway for those days, it is almost like a slap in the pope's face," he said.

Even if he is allowed to serve, Jenkins is worried about how he will transport the food in, given extensive road closures.

"You have vendors that will be providing food to the general community, why can't groups that are serving the homeless be considered vendors as well?" he said. "I want to make sure that the homeless are not discriminated against."

When asked if there will be a designated place for the serving of food to those in need on the parkway during the pope's visit, mayoral spokesman Mark McDonald said via email that "the city has a policy that encourages people to go to established, hygienic places to be served meals with dignity and respect."

Three years ago, the Nutter administration placed a ban on the serving of food to the homeless on the parkway. In the following weeks, as those who serve food to the needy on the parkway - including Jenkins - fought the new law, a federal judge put an injunction on the ban.

"The federal case from three years ago is still in court," Jenkins said.

No matter what, Jenkins said he'll be serving free meals on the parkway during the pope's visit.

"If I have to drop it from a helicopter, I will. If I have to cart it in with a hand truck, I will," he said. "I can't disclose our plans or they'd stop us. Just as much as they have to be top secret, so are we."

Food, not security

In line for a free meal from Chosen 300 Ministries last Saturday was Gregory Bryant, 61, of North Philadelphia. Bryant, who is on disability, said he is not homeless, but comes for the meal when his food runs out.

"You know, with the pope being a humanitarian, they shouldn't even block anything off. Here's a guy that stands for something, but you're going to counter what he represents. It's asinine," Bryant said, before pointing to the long line in which he stood. "This should be seen. It should be seen worldwide what happens in Philadelphia.

"If you're ashamed of it, why don't you do something about it?"

Also grabbing a well-rounded meal on Saturday was James Donald Jelks, 63, who noted how calm the few hundred people who came for food were.

"We don't have a need for security right now, nobody is ever outlandishly out of control, ever," he said. "So the security for the pope is just protocol."

At 19th and Vine streets, where Philly Restart serves its meals on Mondays, many of the people who live on the parkway said they will leave the area the weekend of the papal visit.

Darryl Baker, 51, who has lived on the parkway for a year, said he will leave because he doesn't see another choice.

"Our voices don't mean anything," he said. "But the people who live out here know how to survive, if it's only for that weekend."

Kevin McNichol, 64, who has spent the last 10 years living on the parkway, said the crowds and security that come with the papal visit would cause him anxiety, so he plans to hang elsewhere in Center City that weekend.

"I'll just stay out of the area that weekend and come back when things are normal," McNichol said, before pointing to the crowd of around 200 waiting for a meal outside. "To me, this is normal."

McNichol said he feels the city has been engineering the removal of the homeless from the parkway for years, mentioning Sister Cities Park as a place where he used to receive free meals.

"Whenever the police say, 'You know you're not allowed in here,' you say, 'Well, what's wrong with me?' " McNichol said. "Our area is shrinking and it may, at one point, be eliminated, but what are we going to do?"

Still, McNichol praised the volunteers who serve meals along the parkway.

"There's not much that you can say against the work of good Samaritans," he said. "Whenever you're engaged in helping the indigent, that's Jesus, that was his thing, that was his message."

" @FarFarrAway

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