Nine Organizations Unite to Let Mayor Kenney Know What is Needed in Kensington

A syringe and mattress on 32xx Kensington Avenue last week. Photo: T. Lineman/Juniata News

When a City Council committee hearing was held in Kensington on August 11th, a recurring question was “Where is Jim Kenney?” Nine organizations have come together to let Mayor Jim Kenney know about some of the immediately actionable requests that were brought up at the meeting. Following is their letter:

Kensington Neighborhood Planning

Mayor Kenney,

On August 11th, City Council held a committee meeting in Kensington to address the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the community.  You were not present to hear the concerns of residents and advocates so you are now asked to review both the transcripts and video from the hearing.  We have also gone through the effort of summarizing many of the concerns as well as solutions that were offered that day.  

The following list, while not exhaustive, is a summary of immediately actionable requests arising from the August 11th unified protest and council hearing focused on living conditions for all in Kensington.  While we will continue to organize and grow our coalition of diverse stakeholders to include additional voices and identify solutions that will work for all impacted, we wanted bring light to the following issues we expect your administration to immediately address in collaboration with this emerging coalition.

1. Provide Housing for all.

·        Give appropriate housing resources to all who need them whether they are under housed or unhoused, while tracking utilization.

·        Payment procedures for housing providers are on a per-diem basis only

·        Creation of a family reunification program for people experiencing homeless in Kensington

·        Short term needs and capacity assessment of current state of housing system available to people in Kensington and beyond.

2. Provide Treatment for all.

·        Immediately remove identified barriers to treatment engagement such as the smoking ban, non-essential pre-inpatient treatment medical clearance, etc., along with lack of housing and other basic needs to practically and meaningfully engage in outpatient treatment.

·        Short term needs and capacity assessment of current state of addiction treatment available to people in Kensington and beyond.

·        Payment procedures for treatment on a per-diem basis only

3. Parks and Rec Centers are immediately designated and enforced as safe spaces for children and families.

·        Enforce guidelines created by working group over the summer of 2021 which are already standard throughout city including, no consumption of drugs and alcohol, no camping, no use  of these spaces after stated closing times.

·        Parks and Rec Centers such as McVeigh, Hope, Hissey, Scanlon, McPherson, Harrowgate will be immediately addressed as they are not currently meeting the above standards.

4. Eliminate Kensington as destination for narcotics use and support the reunification processes for those from outside of the area.

·        Get better understanding of who are those who are unhoused and using in Kensington

·        Identify Beacon House equivalent (quality treatment/housing facility) in every council district in the city and begin connecting individuals to services in their home districts.

·        Identify and address new and existing encampments.

5. Sanitation of public spaces (sidewalks and parks) in Kensington is given priority.

·        Trash removal is increased to necessary frequency to address current conditions.

·        Feces is cleaned up within 24 hours of report to 311.

6. Establish a concise reporting mechanism (i.e. dashboard) to demonstrate progress on implementation of actions listed above.

Thank You,

East Kensington Neighborhood Association

Harrowgate Civic Association

Impact Services

Juniata Park Civic Association

Kensington Neighborhood Association

New Kensington Community Development Corporation

Operation Save Our Streets

Pennsylvania Harm Reduction Network

Somerset Neighbors for Better Living

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