City, PHA And JTD Camp Representatives Reach Agreement to End Parkway Encampment 

PHILADELPHIA — The City, the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) and encampment leaders have reached an amicable resolution involving the encampment known as “James Talib Dean (JTD) Camp,” located on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

The agreement will result in the residents of Camp JTD voluntarily vacating the encampment site by the end of this week. Under terms of the agreement, the City and PHA will transfer a total of 50 properties to a land trust established by the encampment residents. The transfer of the properties will be accomplished in phases spelled out in the agreement:

  • Within five days of the resolution of the camp and establishment of the Land Trust, the City will enter into an agreement to provide site control and access, on a temporary basis, to up to 10 properties to the Land Trust.
  • Within six months of the resolution of the camp, the City will enter into agreements to transfer up to an additional 40 city-owned properties identified by the Land Trust.
    • Of those 40, 25 will be transferred to the City within 45 days by PHA, using properties from closed Rental Assistance Demonstrations (RAD) transactions.
    • The remaining 15 properties will be city-owned properties identified by the Land Trust and which the City agrees are suitable for transfer to the Land Trust.

Mayor Jim Kenney:

“As with last week’s resolution of the Ridge Avenue camp, this agreement is the result of a lot of hard work by all of those involved, and I thank everyone for their efforts. This took a long time, but an amicable resolution was always my goal, and I’m pleased that this has been achieved. I also want to thank the camp leaders and residents for elevating Philadelphia’s affordable housing crisis in the public eye. We have an agreement, but the larger issues remain — particularly amid a global pandemic — and we all need to rededicate ourselves to finding bold solutions.

“Thanks as well go to City Council, particularly Council President Darrell Clarke, and Council members Jaimie Gauthier and Kendra Brooks, who devoted countless hours participating in discussions with encampment organizers. I also want to voice sincere appreciation to PHA CEO Kelvin Jeremiah for his personal commitment and dedication in helping resolve both encampments. Finally, I want to sincerely thank the Parkway neighbors for their patience and understanding. Throughout the past four months, many neighbors voiced their concerns to me about the situation, and frequently did so by acknowledging the larger issues that led to the camp. You have my commitment that the area will be fully restored and available for all Philadelphians.”

City Council President Darrell L. Clarke:

“On behalf of the residents of the surrounding communities of Fairmount, Spring Garden and Logan Square, I’m pleased that an agreement has been reached to resolve and end the encampment on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The residents of these neighborhoods have the right to live in peace and safety, and this agreement helps preserve that right. I’ve been dedicated to the cause of affordable housing for my entire career in City Council, and our efforts will continue energetically across the 5th District and the entire city.”

 Kelvin A. Jeremiah, PHA CEO:

“As I said last week, the resolution of the Ridge Avenue encampment could lead to an amicable agreement with the Parkway encampment. I want to thank all those at the City, PHA and camp who have worked tirelessly on this agreement. I want to especially thank the encampment leaders for highlighting the desperate need for long term affordable housing especially during the midst of this health crisis. Although, the encampments are closed, there is still so much work to do. We must all continue to work together until there is housing for everyone. PHA remains committed to our mission to open doors to affordable housing, economic opportunity and safe, sustainable communities to benefit Philadelphia residents with low incomes.”

Jennifer Bennetch, OccupyPHA Founder:

“OccupyPHA, along with the leaders and residents of the Parkway Encampment (known as Camp JTD), came together with a protest to pressure PHA and the City to come to the table to discuss real changes to the housing crisis in Philadelphia. I am very proud that we were able to reach an agreement with the City and PHA to create a Community Land Trust for permanent low income housing with long term vacant City and PHA properties. We appreciate the opportunity to move from protest to partner and look forward to implementing lasting change for the houseless community.”

Sterling Johnson, JTD Camp Organizer and local activist with the Black and Brown Workers Cooperative:

“We would not be here if not for all of the activists that have sacrificed their bodies for racial and economic justice. BBWC organizers have committed years to this cause and will continue to fight. 

The whole point of our protest was to make sure everybody had a house. And we while we didn’t get everything we wanted, we did get a commitment for a significant number of housing units for a community land trust from the City and PHA and expanded options for camp residents. We also have gotten assurances that we will have a seat at the table with the City leaders so our voices will be heard and our grievances addressed.”

The agreement has other provisions, including the following:

  • The City will move forward with the development of two Tiny House Villages, one with 10-12 self-contained units, the other with communal kitchens and bathrooms to accommodate 10-12 people, by the end of this year.
  • The City will make nine bedrooms available for individuals and five bedrooms (one house) for a family under their existing Shared Housing Initiative program.
  • PHA will fully implement the Community Choice Registration Program, which will make properties available to nonprofits, CDC, and community land trusts.
  • The Office of Homeless Services has created 50 new rapid rehousing opportunities under a “Street to Home Rapid Rehousing Pilot Program.” Under this agreement, the City will register 32 of these 50 opportunities for former residents of both camps. Individuals selected under this pilot program will be provided with a security deposit, utility assistance, moving costs, leasing assistance, and up to 24 months of rental assistance for units in the private rental market.
  • The City and PHA are committed to continued collaboration with encampment leaders on vacant property, homeless and treatment system reforms, and the expansion of available permanent housing.