This story was updated on September 6, 2019 to reflect the updated number of business who have participated in the program. 

The Philadelphia Resilience Project, a joint effort of 35 City agencies, has been tackling the opioid epidemic in our city. The Kensington-focused efforts have worked to improve the health and safety of the area for all—businesses included.

One of the ways the City is supporting these neighborhood establishments is through the Business Security Camera Program. This Department of Commerce program helps businesses around the city by subsidizing 50% of the cost of camera installation. To support the efforts of the Resilience Project, businesses in the targeted area in Kensington are eligible to receive 100% reimbursement for eligible security cameras.

Increasing neighborhood safety

The Business Security Camera Program aims to increase the safety of commercial areas for shoppers, residents, and employees. Once a business receives their security cameras, they are registered with the Philadelphia Police Department. If a crime occurs outside of the business, the police will be able to contact the owners for access to footage to assist in their investigations.

Since we got the [security cameras], which was actually only a few months ago, the Police Department has actually come by two or three times to view our cameras,” says John Chun, whose family owns J&J restaurant on Kensington Avenue. His family had previously installed security cameras on their own, but had issues with the quality of the system and footage. This program allowed them to purchase, and be reimbursed for, higher quality and more reliable cameras.

The owner of 4 Son’s Pizzeria, Angel Fuentes, had problems with people loitering outside of his business. Since using the Business Security Camera Program to install cameras, he says, “No one stands on my corner anymore.”

So far, more than 200 businesses have applied for the program in Kensington. Of the applicants, 130 have installed new cameras and more than 72 additional businesses have been approved. Business and property owners in the targeted area can apply for the enhanced funding for cameras through September 30, 2019. Interested business can complete the normal Business Security Camera Program application. 

Continued improvements to businesses in Kensington

Before choosing Kensington to open J&J restaurant, the Chun family considered locations all around Philadelphia for their breakfast and lunch spot. “We’ve grown to actually love the neighborhood,” Chun expresses. “A lot of the customers at this point are like family, so we don’t even have any thoughts of going anywhere. We want to do the best business that we can there.”

To continue improving J&J Restaurant, the Chuns are also utilizing the Commerce Department’s Storefront Improvement Program to make changes to the facade of their establishment.

Since purchasing 4 Son’s Pizzeria one year ago, Angel Fuentes has also been working to bring new life to his block. In addition to the pizzeria, he will soon be opening an ice cream shop next door, offering more options to the neighborhood. Fuentes hopes to continue to make changes, add tenants to the upper levels of his buildings, and potentially purchase more vacant storefronts on Kensington Avenue.

“That’s what Kensington needs: people who actually live here to make the neighborhood a little bit better,” Fuentes says.

Working together to bring change

The City is not working on these efforts alone. Community-based organizations, businesses, civic associations, services providers, and more are helping the Kensington area recover.

Jonathan Arrieta, the Business Corridor Manager for Impact Services, is a long-time resident of the area who is dedicated to helping this neighborhood succeed. He works everyday to help the businesses of Kensington with everything from tax assistance to safety concerns.

“I just kind of wanted to be part of a change,” Arrieta shares. “You’ve got to be the change that you want to see.”