"Our Homes! Not Nursing Homes!" is the message on a sweatshirt of Marshall Brown.
Brown and eight other members of Philadelphia ADAPT, a disability rights group, began a sit-in around 9 a.m. at Philadelphia Nursing Home, 2100 W. Girard Avenue, near Girard College.
By 11, the contingent had grown to 15, most of them in wheelchairs.
"There is no justice for someone in a nursing home," read a sign held by one of the demonstrators.
The group's goal is to persuade Mayor Nutter to help find homes for 50 or so disabled residents over the next six months, then get out of the nursing-home business, according to Zachary Lewis, 26, a spokesman for ADAPT.
"We want him to downsize it and eventually close it," said Lewis, who uses a wheelchair.
"There are deplorable conditions, like feces on the floor, and syringes left in beds," said Lewis, who explained that he observed conditions inside while doing volunteer work.
"We'll be here 24/7," said German Parodi, 24, vowing that until their concerns are met, the protesters will sleep at the site in a tent that was set up this morning.
A portable toilet was also brought in.
"Disabled doesn't mean sick," said Fran Fulton, 60, who is blind.
People with disabilities aren't sick, so they don't need to be in nursing homes for extended periods of time, she said.
"They're virtually incarcerated," said Fulton of residents in PNH. "And we're here to free our people." Instead, the city needs to provide affordable, accessible housing, she said.
"People can and do live independently in the city like I do," Parodi, who is also wheelchair-bound, said in a statement released before the demonstration. "I work and am a part of the Community. People deserve their chance to live and be a part of the community rather than lying in their own waste in a human warehouse."
ADAPT representatives met with a deputy mayor in January but today's protest was organized because the city has taken no significant steps, the protesters said.
Philadelphia ADAPT, is "part of a national movement ... that has been fighting for 25 years for the freedom of People with Disabilities," its announcement of the protest said.
Because "nursing homes are well known for abuses ... such as overmedication, bedsores, depression, abandonment and neglect," the group advocates helping people with disabilities live in residential areas.
"Nursing homes serve the public but they don't serve the person and that's unfortunate," said James Phillips, a consumer advocate.
No one at the Philadelphia Nursing Home was available to comment this morning, according to an administrative secretary.
For more information about the national group, go to http://www.adapt.org.