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Encampment outside University City townhomes refuses to budge, despite court order demanding them to move out

By Wakisha Bailey

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    PHILADELPHIA (KYW) — The encampment outside of University City townhomes in West Philadelphia is continuing to grow, despite a court order that demands they move out. The tents with human rights signs and other messages of hope and protest could soon become some residents’ new reality.

“The symbolism of the tents for some person’s will not stand as simply as a symbol anymore,” Sheldon Davids said. “There are some person’s who will have to occupy tents.”

Davids has stood in solidarity with his neighbors for nearly a month, protesting the sale and redevelopment of the townhomes at the intersection of 40th and Market Streets.

Residents were notified in July of 2021 that their HUD contract would not be renewed. This will force nearly 70 families to relocate.

“A lot of folks don’t have a lot of options and flexibility,” Davids said.

“We have elderly people here, disabled people here, women with children here, bedridden people here,” Darlene Foreman said.

Foreman has called University City home for over 20 years.

“It’s a safe space, it’s a closed-in community, you don’t have to worry about them,” she said. “They’re always in your sight or your neighbors can see them.”

The residents living at the encampment say that their biggest fear is that this could happen to another low-income housing development.

“We have a list of 37 properties that are about to go through the same thing in the next five years,” someone said.

“I wish that they really would stop putting profit over people,” Foreman said.

Following a court order, as of 9 a.m. Monday the encampment is set to be removed. And in September, Foreman along with dozens will be asked to leave their home.

“Not being able to find someplace to live that’s my biggest fear,” Foreman said.

“Just back off the sale. Don’t sell the property,” she added.

A UC Townhomes spokesperson sent Eyewitness News a statement:

“The court order issued on Thursday reaffirms that the trespassers who have camped at the site have no legal right to remain there. the court has ordered the sheriff to remove the encampment and all unauthorized individuals occupying the property, and we will await the sheriff’s enforcement of the court’s order.”

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