[Hpn] Homeless SIT-IN delays Philadelphia City Council meeting / KWRU links links

Tom Boland wgcp@earthlink.net
Sat, 9 Dec 2000 13:44:49 -0800 (PST)

Homeless SIT-IN by KWRU delays Philadelphia City Council meeting:

CONTACT INFO & LINKS for "Kensington Welfare Rights Union" appear at end:

FWD  Associated Press - AP Wire Service - Dec 07, 2000


     Associated Press Writer

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Homeless activists held a sit-in that
delayed a scheduled City Council meeting Thursday, and a deal that
would have ended the demonstration was rejected by city officials.

The protest in City Council chambers by the Kensington Welfare
Rights Union came as council members scrambled to introduce a $1
billion stadium bill before week's end.

The City Council thought they had the protest resolved when they
announced the city would pay for seven homeless families to stay in
a motel for several weeks. But Mayor John F. Street's
administration quashed the emergency funding shortly afterward.

``The administration doesn't want to set a precedent. So we're
going to try to find some private money,'' Councilman Richard
Mariano said.

That left the approximately 30 protesters _ including several
young children _ to color, play cards and talk on the chamber
floor, where they had gathered for a scheduled 10 a.m. council
meeting. The meeting never happened.

Cheri Honkala, the director of the Kensington Welfare Rights
Union who is known for her confrontational brand of activism and
frequent arrests, led the protest.

She said that although the city's homeless shelters are often
full, the city will not give out motel vouchers to families unless
there is an extreme emergency, such as a fire. She wants the seven
families she represents to get vouchers at least through Christmas.

Council President Anna Verna left a meeting on the stadium issue
to discuss Honkala's demands with the city's Public Housing
Administration and Office of Emergency Social Services. Verna
thought they had a deal that would have cleared the chambers for
the council meeting, only to learn it was off.

``Can you believe this?'' Verna said.

This week, city leaders have seen pressing deadlines for the
stadium project coincide with the homeless demonstration on the
fourth floor of City Hall and a sit-in on the second floor by a
hepatitis-infected paramedic.

Lt. Mary Kohler, 37, an 11-year veteran of the city's Fire
Department, has vowed to sit outside the mayor's office until she
can talk to Street about medical coverage for firefighters.

The city has failed to implement new contract terms that an
arbitrator awarded the firefighters union last month. The
arbitrator told the city to pay $4.8 million into the union's
health fund to pay for the increased cost of hepatitis and other
illnesses which firefighters say they contracted on the job.

The city is appealing the award.

``I think the difference between dealing with the mayor and
dealing with City Council is the members of City Council have
hearts,'' Kohler said Thursday, referring to their efforts to help
the homeless family.

Luz Cardenas, a spokeswoman for Street, did not immediately
return calls seeking comment Thursday.

Verna represents the South Philadelphia neighborhood where the
new stadiums would be built for the Eagles and Phillies. She has
been meeting late into the night this week with residents concerned
about parking, tailgating and other issues, and relaying their
concerns to team owners.

The council hoped to hold a first reading on a stadium bill
Thursday or Friday, to allow for a second reading, and a vote, late
next week. The council must either approve a stadium package this
month or pay $80 million to repair aging Veterans Stadium and about
$23 million for an Eagles practice facility.

AP-ES-12-07-00 1737EST
Received  Id AP10034286CE142F on Dec 09 2000 11:25


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FWD  Philadelphia Inquirer - Friday, December 1, 2000


     Seven were jailed after a "living room" sit-in, supporting
     squatter families evicted from abandoned buildings.

     By Julie Stoiber

Police arrested seven members of the Kensington Welfare Rights
Union yesterday after the activists set up a makeshift living room,
complete with Christmas tree, in a concourse inside the Convention
Center and demanded emergency housing vouchers for homeless

Kensington Welfare Rights Union
PO Box 50678
Philadelphia, PA 19132-9720
Phone: 215/203-1945
Fax:   215/203-1950
email: <kwru@libertynet.org>
web:   <http://www.kwru.org>
KWRU List-Archive: <http://libertynet.org:80/Lists/kwru-announce/List.html>

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