The City of Philadelphia has buckled down ahead of Pope Francis' visit next week, from zoning neighborhoods to road closures to rallies, and as a man's video revealed last night, it's also attempting to move the homeless out of the way — at any cost.
Philly resident and Temple alumni Antonio Anderson witnessed a city worker forcing a homeless man — who, according to sources who pass by the man every day, has been there for quite a while — to throw away his belongings, which sat on the sidewalk.
Anderson, who works for a church group called Hope Church Philly, filmed the ordeal and revealed the blatant hypocrisy of it all.
"A tragic side of Philadelphia. We can spend hundreds of millions of dollars for the Pope's arrival, but we cannot help someone who is homeless living on the street."
"We make them throw the stuff away that they have. It's just sad."
In the background of the video, you can hear the worker say, "What the hell is this and now we gotta pick all this sh*t up."
Antonio later commented that there was also a trash truck they were dumping his stuff into.
He shared the video to his Facebook page where in less than a day racked up 160,000 views and more than 7,000 shares.
The state of homelessness in Philadelphia is dire and has remained unchanged for the last few years. Between 2013 and 2014, the number of people on the street only dropped by 1 percent.
According to an annual report by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, almost half of those in Philly seeking shelter are turned away. The needs of those needing "emergency shelter" have been "unmet," per the report, with the number of those turned away jumping from 17 percent to 48 percent in only two years.
Aside from the man in the video above, multiple sources have detailed a situation happening near Philly's American Street, where those who have been displaced from their homes have been under tents in a parking lot.
Resident Tito Belpre shared a post on Facebook of a homeless family living in one of the tents and a car:
This is Augustine and Dolores with their children Zolora (9 months), Aiden 9, Jonah 5 and Elijah 2. They are currently living with half a dozen other families in makeshift shelters on an empty lot at American and Cumberland Sts. They have been trying to find housing for months after the Housing Authority sold the house they were living in and put them in the street. There are quite a few children now living on this empty lot the youngest being 3 months old. Augustine has been looking for work but no one will hire him because he has no address.
With the Papal visit, and transparency over how much the city has spent on his arrival, many residents are holding the city and Mayor Michael Nutter accountable now more than ever.
"The Pope's visit is will cost ten of millions and is expected to create approximately $420 million dollars in economic benefit to the city. Let hope that some of the money generated can help this truly in need," Belpre said.
Back in June, advocates for the homeless told Philly.com that those without homes or in places that the city would clear out would be treated fairly and given food. They also assured the homeless would be able to return to their locations once the visit ended, but it was unclear where they would go.
Now we know.
The Mayor's office, the city's homeless sector and Antonio Anderson have been reached out to for comment.
It's safe to say that Pope Francis would probably be appalled at the events happening ahead of his visit.
"None of us can think we are exempt from concern for the poor and for social justice," he once said.
Perhaps he can share those thoughts once more during his time in Philadelphia.