About 11 months ago, back when we -- well, OK, me, anyway -- were all talking about the Occupy movement and the camp down at City Hall , and how it was overrun by homeless people. I made the point that instead of blaming the Occupiers for that state of affairs, maybe we should be talking about why there were so many homeless people in Philadelphia, and why a tent at Dilworth Plaza seemed better than any other option they had.
Now, Occupy is long gone, Dilworth Plaza is a construction site, and the situation for the city's homeless does not seem any better. The latest?
The closing of the shelter has led not only to a fundamental shift in the way homeless men are served in and around Center City, but also to a visible shift in the quickly gentrifying neighborhood that the shelter left behind.
Want proof? The former shelter building is now home to offices and a catering kitchen for one of the city's most notable restaurateurs - Stephen Starr.
A city official said that one of the reasons the shelter closed was "concerns about the ability to do other development in the area," though all officials interviewed for this story denied it was a push to move the homeless out of Center City.
I was curious what Daily News readers had to say about this: On a pure gut, emotional level, it's hard not to agree with this comment:
No missing the irony of a building formerly used to house the downtrodden being reborn as a place where grub is prepared for the elite to stuff in their faces. This is the face of New Philadelphia. Where Philly was once known as the 'workshop of the world', all about productivity, it has been transformed into a playtime city. Those who come here to play (and leave behind wads of 'diposable' income) are deterred, offended by the uncouth reality of the homeless so a place must be found to hide them.
But on a purely rational level, there's this:
What is wrong with moving a non-income producing service to a lower-rent location, and bringing in a taxable entity? This city is hurting for tax dollars as it is. Higher land value will equal higher tax intake, which then can be used to provide services.
All the bleeding hearts cry that 'the poor are being displaced'...the homeless shouldn't care where a shelter is. If moving shelters to lower-rent areas provides for greater land values and tax intake for the city (to provide these services which we can barely afford), I'm all for it.
The issue of where homeless facilities is located isn't a non-issue, but it should be secondary to a) do we have enough of the right kind of homeless shelter for the people who truly need it, and are these centers well-maintained and well-run and b) are they accessible to people who need them. I don't think the Nutter administration doesn't care about the homeless but it feels -- fairly or not -- that do much effort is exhausted on what the homeless can't do and where they cian't go than on solving the core problem as best as we can. That would end all the bickering, wouldn't it?