InBox: City Posts Formal Notice for Resolution of Protest Camps

City Posts Formal Notice for Resolution of Protest Camps
  PHILADELPHIA – City officials today posted formal notice at the protest camps on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and on Ridge Avenue that the camps must resolve no later than Tuesday, August 18, 2020 at 9 a.m.

This is the second such posting for the Parkway camp. After the first, on July 10, Mayor Kenney postponed the action and personally interceded in the negotiations in order to reach an amicable resolution. “After several weeks of face-to-face discussions, and after more than two months of concerted efforts by our administration, I have come to the conclusion that further negotiations would be fruitless,” said Mayor Kenney. “I take this step again with a heavy heart, as a last resort, and in recognition of the growing health and safety concerns at the sites.

“As we have said from the onset, we respect the right of people to protest peacefully, and fully share the residents’ concerns about the lack of affordable housing,” the Mayor continued. “But we have also been clear that the encampment is not a long term solution. When I stepped into these discussions, I voiced the hope that a resolution was possible. I no longer harbor such hope.

“The continued shifting of camp leaders’ demands, and the fact that some of their repeated demands are out of the City’s control, or unachievable in the time frame that they demand, all contribute to this difficult decision,” the Mayor said. “I again thank our external partners who devoted many hours towards a solution and thank our Parkway neighbors and the Fairmount Sports Association for their patience during this period, as well as the community near the Ridge Avenue camp. Despite this outcome, my administration’s larger commitment to enacting meaningful reforms that help keep people in their homes, expand affordable housing options for those with low or no income and disabilities, and improve pathways to home ownership in the City of Philadelphia–especially for communities of color–will not waver.”

Throughout the negotiations, teams of homeless outreach workers continued to talk with and engage those people who were interested. On the Parkway, this included three weeks of Homeless Connect, an event with several service providers on site to let people know what options are available to them. Teams succeeded in getting more than 80 people into emergency, temporary housing, safe havens and the COVID Prevention Space. This includes several couples who have been housed together. However, outreach workers faced continued difficulties in being allowed to connect with residents of the camp, and the City now concludes that further outreach at the site is no longer productive. Outreach conducted at the camp on Ridge Avenue also had limited success.

“PHA, the City, and the encampment leaders all agree that everyone deserves decent housing and there is an affordable housing crisis. However, the encampment is not the solution. The encampment leaders  unreasonable demands would have required PHA to violate federal policies or regulations and that is not acceptable,” said Kelvin A. Jeremiah, President and CEO of the Philadelphia Housing Authority. “PHA is committed to the work we have planned with the Sharswood community and want to thank them as well as the Brewerytown Sharswood  Neighborhood  Advisory Committee for their patience and their continued support. PHA remains dedicated to serving our residents and to our mission of providing affordable housing throughout the city.” 

During the negotiations, the City, along with the Philadelphia Housing Authority, committed to a number of concrete actions, including but not limited to:

  • Sanctioned Encampments: The City is willing to consider establishing a temporary sanctioned encampment at another site, but it must have the support of the community residents and the District Council member for that use.
  • Tiny House Villages: The City agrees to support the establishment of a Tiny House Village this year. It will not replace any existing or future low-income housing funds.
  • Creation of new permanent housing units: The Office of Homeless Services (OHS) has issued an RFP dedicating ESG funds for Shared Housing and Project Based Rapid Rehousing. Another proposal for Shallow Rent will be forthcoming. The total funds on the table through these sources is more than $7M dollars.
  • The City agreed to and has opened 2 COVID prevention sites offering a total of 260 beds. To date, 17 people from JDT Camp have entered; more referrals are pending.
  • The City has made shelter, safe haven and treatment beds available. More than 80 individuals from the camp have been housed to date.
  • Support of a Community Land Trust: The City is willing to work with Philadelphia Housing Action members on establishing a Community Land Trust or Trusts in Philadelphia.
  • PHA Police: The Kenney Administration has announced and begun several measures to improve police department accountability. In order to address concerns about PHA Police conduct, PHA will fully participate in the police reform initiative.
  • Moratorium on Sales of PHA Properties: PHA agrees to institute a Property Sale Moratorium on new fair market value property sales via auction, brokers or direct sales until completion of independent study not to exceed 9 months.
  • Community Concerns about PHA Scattered Sites: PHA will designate a Scattered Site Ombudsman to serve as primary point of contact for inquiries or complaints regarding vacant PHA owned units and to administer the CCRP.
  • Need for continued collaboration: The City has committed to continuing to work with Philadelphia Housing Action on homeless and treatment system reforms and the expansion of available permanent housing.

During negotiations last week, leaders of the protest camp verbally committed to drawing up a written agreement reflecting these and other commitments by the City and PHA, as well as their own commitment to resolve the camp. That document, however, did not accurately reflect the written offers that the City had previously provided during the negotiations. The three organizations that created the camp stated their intention to remain at both sites unless the City and PHA agreed to all of their demands. This statement cemented the City’s perception that further negotiations would be futile and led to today’s decision to post formal notice.


InBox: Virtual Quizzo, Dance Parties and Fashion Fun

Let’s call this Wednesday wisdom. I get so many interesting emails, some I tweet, some I ignore and once in awhile I do a blog post about them. I’m going to share some today of the ones I usually ignore or write back and say “that has nothing to do with my mission” ie informing Philadelphian’s about Philly things or people. Let’s get started. The first few will be the informative ones.

Philly Home of the Celebrity Chef’s. This guy has to be the youngest.

The public is invited to join Avner Schwartz, a 13-Year-Old Haverford resident and star
of Food Network’s Kids Baking Championship as he makes an appearance at The Great Big Jewish Food Fest. Avner is the son of Rachel and Eric Schwartz, and is a seventh grader at Friends’ Central School. He is a self-taught baker, and an avid fan of the Philadelphia food scene. Avner’s bespoke baking business, Gingee Says, sells custom and seasonal bakery items direct to local consumers and nationally through his website Gingeesays.com

The Great Big Jewish Food Fest which started yesterday, May 19 and runs through May 28, 2020. The 10- day virtual festival celebrating the diversity of Jewish food and the robust Jewish food industry.  This Friday, Avner is a featured presenter in The Great Big Jewish Food Festival, and is the ONLY child to participate as a presenter in the prestigious national virtual event. He joins culinary celebrities such as Philadelphian Michael Solomonov, Gail Simmons (Host of Top Chef), Ruth Reichl (author and former editor in chief of Gourmet Magazine), Joan Nathan (celebrated Jewish cookbook author), Mitchell Davis (Chief Strategy Officer for the James Beard Foundation), Jake Cohen (Editorial and Test Kitchen Director of The Feedfeed), Michael Twitty (James Beard Award-winning author of The Cooking Gene, 2018) and more.

Friday, May 22 at 3 P.M. ET, the class is free for all participants, suitable for all ages. Register at

Virtual location is https://zoom.us/j/92184605112

Vote for Jared Solomon, and Larry Farnese. Larry stop with the mailings, no one is better than you my friend.

Today, Governor Wolf signed HB1076 into law; my legislation that gets money to our most vulnerable–our seniors and our disabled.

This is great news for folks who get the Property Tax and Rent Rebate. The law gives the Department of Revenue the go-ahead to start getting checks out to those who have already applied for the 2019 rebate. I know how important these checks are to many who are struggling through the COVID-19 pandemic.

So what does this mean for you? If you already applied for your rebate, your check will be mailed out or direct deposited soon. You can check your status here.   If you have not yet applied, download the full application and instructions here. Print it at home and mail it with supporting documentation to: 
  PA Department of Revenue P.O. Box 280503 Harrisburg PA 17128-0503   Still need help? Call my office at 215-342-6340 and set up a time to talk to one of my staff to go through the application with you.

Inbox: Happy 40th Anniversary Rubik’s Cube. How much fun is trying to figure out the Rubik’s Cube, especially drunk at parties right? Then YouTube came along and spoiled all the fun. Well here’s a new twist on the old puzzle.

Super Impulse USA LLC, creator of the successful and popular World’s Smallest line of toys and collectibles, has partnered with Rubik’s Brand to launch the new Rubik’s Tilt, a hand-held electronic game controlled by motion. This and other Rubik’s inspired games can be found on Amazon.

You Don’t Even Need A Green Thumb

Share your garden through the 2020 PHS Gardening Contest! A great way to get to know and learn from other gardeners. Regardless of experience level, all nonprofessional gardeners residing in Pennsylvania, New Jersey or Delaware are encouraged to enter.  To ensure the safety of all gardeners, PHS will judge entries through online submissions. Contestants can regis

For more information and to learn how to enter the Contest, serve as a
volunteer judge and/or support the PHS Gardening Contest, visit

Save The Date

I have a good friend who has created a fundraiser called 20 Second Trivia.  He has always loved trivia and game shows.  Now, every Sunday night he hosts a trivia game through Zoom.  While you can play for free, he is encouraging people do donate money to the CDC.  He runs the event through Facebook, which is matching donations 2-1.  So…if he can raise $20,000, it will become $60,000 with the Facebook match.

He has more than 100 people playing each week, and is halfway to his goal having raised just over $10,000!  Many people who play say it is the highlight of the week.  He makes it so fun, and it is a great way to bond people together during this time.

I am helping him spread the word for more people to play.  You can learn more about the event at https://www.facebook.com/donate/1524871634334844/10113368930243443/.

Fashion News

Chestnut Hill PA’s retailers will come together for one night next Wednesday, May 27 during Chestnut Hill: Fashion’s Night In, a virtual fashion show showcasing summer trends and connecting local businesses to the
people that matter most — their customers! #keepitonthehill

Afterwards make sure you mark down on your calendar: Chestnut Hill PA’s retailers Virtual Fashion Show next Wednesday, May 27 during Chestnut Hill: Fashion’s Night In,



On Saturday, May 30 from 7:30 – 9 p.m. Pennsylvania Ballet will host a virtual 80s dance party via Zoom to benefit long-time philanthropic partner MANNA. Pull out your leg warmers, tease your hair, and don your most neon apparel as DJ Ben Arsenal takes us back to the 80s! Since the pandemic hit, MANNA’s essential service providing nutritious meals to our neighbors battling life-threatening illnesses is more important than ever. Pennsylvania Ballet soloist Alex Hughes and corps de ballet dancer Emily Davis will host alongside the Young Friends of Pennsylvania, while other Pennsylvania Ballet company dancers will be in attendance to dance along with you! Other surprises will take place throughout the night.

The event is FREE to attend, but donations are greatly appreciated to help raise much needed funds for a vital charity in our city. Donations up to $10,000 will be generously matched by one of MANNA’s Board members. Register here:  https://paballet80s.givesmart.com or text paballet80s to 76278.

Pennsylvania Ballet has been a proud member of the Philadelphia community since 1963.  One of the Ballet’s core values is to engage with that community through meaningful and inclusive programming. For the past 27 years, the Ballet has been integral in the success of MANNA’s Shut Up and Dance program, and we were all heartbroken to have to cancel the event this year. We are honored to find a new way to work together.

When:                Saturday, May 30

                            7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Where:               VIRTUAL via Zoom

                             Guests will receive event link after registration

And Now A Word From Our Sponsor. Have you ordered your Memorial Day Weekend BBQ Yet? Check out FeastWellFoods.com Menu. Just because we’re staying at home, doesn’t mean we can’t treat ourselves. See you on social, until tomorrow.