The Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office enforced an order from Judge Joshua Roberts to break up the University City Townhomes encampment on Aug. 8.
According to WHYY, the Altman Management company did not renew the affordable housing contract with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for the first time in almost 40 years.
This decision displaces several residents who had lived in the townhomes for decades, along with families who have children due to start school within the next few weeks. In total, 68 families will be displaced from their west Philadelphia homes.
Following the decision, an array of community members gathered in protest at the site and set up tents, wash stations, a movie projection screen and tables that provided information about the cause.
In a video released by NBC10, police were ordered to take down tents and clear out the encampment, while protesters chanted “shame on you,” through megaphones. Many of the residents in the video expressed how they have no other housing to turn to, as affordable housing in Philadelphia is difficult to find.
In the past few months, the “Save UC Townhomes Coalition” has gained social media traction. The Instagram account @saveuctownhomes is very active, providing photos, clips and resources surrounding the cause.
One particular post, with almost 1,000 likes, outlines a call to action from the organizers:
“There’s still an avenue to ensure that residents being displaced are provided for: the City of Philadelphia should purchase the land… It’s the very least the city could do after decades of having developers such as Penn consistently push Black and brown native Philadelphians out of their homeland,” the post reads.
The post also mentions what IBID Associates company has offered residents, including $500,000 to each displaced family. However, they say this displacement will push them into “one of the most expensive housing markets in generations.”
The post added how this displacement is an example of white supremacy, racial injustice and state-sanctioned violence against humanity.
“This is what an unchecked failed system of gross capitalism looks like,” they added.
According to the post, Sept. 7 of this year marks when residents are to be mandated to leave their residences.