Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign / POOR PEOPLE’S ARMY Press Release:
For Immediate Release 3/25/21 https://poorpeoplesarmy.com/
Cheri Honkala 215-869-4753 PPEHRCorg@gmail.com fb/insta: @PPEHRC tw: @PPEHRCorg
Family in U.S. on Asylum Latest to be Housed
by Poor People’s Army in 1 of 30+ Takeover Houses
Alin, his wife, and 4 children fled discrimination and persecution in Romania and found their way to the U.S. for a better life. They are Romani (previously known as “gypsy”), and received asylum and legal status. But struggling with a new language, no benefits, an economic slump, and a pandemic, they became homeless. They moved back and forth from PA to VA for sporadic work opportunities. Recently back in Philly, they had nowhere to live until a human rights group, the Poor People’s Army, moved the family into a 3 bedroom house, in decent shape, in a nice area of Germantown.
“Thank you,” Alin said in the few English words he knows, with tears in his eyes. “Thank you so much.” A team of movers and workers from the Poor People’s Army brought them furniture, is fixing the plumbing, and moved them into their first real home in the U.S.
But the property management corporation hired to watch over HUD’s vacant properties, BlmCo.com, left a notice on the door to vacate the property within 24 hours, threatening to “contact local authorities and report illegal trespass and / or start legal eviction proceedings.”
But the Poor People’s Army, a housing and anti-poverty advocacy group, has been helping get families into homes for over 30 years, and is used to this twisted cat and mouse game that goes on between homeless families and the Government agencies that own the vacant properties. This house is one of the 30+ properties in Philadelphia that the Poor People’s Army is using as “takeover houses,” which they say Housing and Urban Development have left abandoned or empty.
“This family, through no fault of their own, were homeless without help in the middle of a pandemic in the cold of winter,” says Cheri Honkala, founder of the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign / Poor People’s Army. They say these houses should be used for families like Alin’s since there is a lack of affordable housing and safe shelters in the city. They cite a recent study by researchers at University of Wisconsin-Madison that says there are 10 unoccupied housing units for every one houseless person in Philadelphia.
To draw attention to this crisis, the Poor People’s Army is having a press conference along with the National Lawyers Guild, who issued a recent statement supporting the housing takeovers (https://poorpeoplesarmy.com/#press). The press conference will take place on Sunday, March 28 at 1pm EST at Chew Ave. & Upsal St., outside Emlen Elementary School on the Upsal Street side. Reporters will be taken to the house one at a time, and a Romanian translator will be on hand to speak with the residents. People can also participate by Zoom: contact Poor People’s Army for the zoom link.
For more information, go to poorpeoplesarmy.com, email PPEHRCorg@gmail.com, text 215-869-4753, or follow @ppehrc on Facebook and Instagram, @ppehrcorg on Twitter.