Philadelphia and Delaware outreach workers are trying to convince the approximately 150 homeless who have settled at the Philadelphia International Airport to move to alternative locations. The information was provided by Newsradio KYW
“The situation at the airport really is not safe,” said Deputy Managing Director Eva Gladstein. “People are not social distancing, there is not adequate food there, the sanitation facilities are not fully stocked and the terminal is not open so it’s not conducive to sanitation needs. So what we’re doing is offering housing and other services that would provide a safe environment, where they could socially distance, where they could get proper food, where they could get medical care if they need it.”
She says people from high-risk groups are being offered quarantine rooms the city has rented at the Fairfield Suites. There are also shelter and treatment beds. And she says the city will help with travel arrangements for people who got to the airport from other states.
Dr. Monica Taylor, Delaware County Commissioner said that over 50 people who are currently sleeping at the facilities, are from Delaware County. She explained they have been offered services, including emergency housing. “We’re just trying to make sure we’re meeting them so that, as soon as they’re getting out, that they have resources,” she said.
Many of those living at the airport made their way there via a free ride on SEPTA’s 108 bus, intended to get essential workers from the end of Market-Frankford Line to their airport jobs.
“Once SEPTA has made that once again a pay route,” Taylor said, “we assume there’ll be more people at 69th Street starting on Tuesday.”
Philadelphia Managing Director, Brian Abernathy says the situation at the airport is complicated.
“It’s not just an issue about the folks suffering homelessness,” he said. “It’s also about the safety of our airport employees and the people who are using the airport. We’ve had vandalism there, we have to have security escort cleaners to their jobs. That’s not fair to our employees, to the airline employees or the contractors.”
Abernathy says the city is sensitive to the vulnerabilities of the population and are prepared to provide all the necessary resources to relocate them safely.
“We’re trying to be thoughtful in our approach,” he says, “but the status quo at the airport is not appropriate.”