Philadelphia’s Kensington business owners claim city’s cleanup efforts fall short

The owners of Cantina La Martina, located in Philadelphia’s Kensington neighborhood, are facing challenges due to the city’s recent actions. The city recently cleaned the streets and removed an encampment in the area, causing people experiencing homelessness and drug users to congregate near the restaurant. Mariangeli Alicea and Chef Dionicio Jiménez, co-owners of the restaurant, have expressed concerns about the safety of their business as people now sleep on their doorsteps.

Since May, sales at the Kensington location have dropped by 60%. Alicea and Jiménez also operate a food truck at Cherry Street Pier to supplement their income. They feel that simply relocating people from one spot to another is not a solution to the underlying issues. While they acknowledge that the crisis did not develop overnight and requires long-term solutions, they believe that increasing police presence in the neighborhood is not enough.

The Philadelphia Police Department has deployed a recent class of officers to Kensington to address the challenges in the area. However, Alicea and Jiménez feel that despite some progress, they now face additional setbacks due to the recent developments. They express frustration with the lack of communication from Mayor Cherelle Parker’s office about long-term plans for the neighborhood.

Alicea emphasized that comprehensive solutions are needed that address the root causes of homelessness and substance abuse in the community. She believes that policing alone will not resolve these complex issues. The owners hope that Mayor Parker will communicate more openly with them about her plans for addressing homelessness in Kensington and involve them in decision-making processes.

The ongoing struggle faced by Cantina La Martina highlights a larger issue affecting many businesses in Philadelphia’s Kensington neighborhood. As homelessness continues to be a significant problem in our city, it is crucial for policymakers to work together with community members like Alicea and Jiménez to develop sustainable solutions that address both immediate needs and long-term goals for our city’s most vulnerable populations.

By Sophia Gonzalez

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