“I feel the pain and the hopelessness when I have to walk through my neighborhood, and we shouldn’t have to feel that.”

shelly donohue kensington
Shelly Donohue, una residente de Kensington, se encuentra en las esquina de las avenidas Frankford y Allegheny el 31 de julio de 2020. (Foto por Erin Blewett).

Shelly Donohue, Kensington resident

Editor’s note: The responses have been edited for clarity and conciseness. We tried to keep the majority of the points that were made, but some parts did need to be cut or rephrased. Phrases, such as “addicts” and “users”, were changed to “people experiencing addiction” and “people who use drugs” to follow Kensington Voice’s ethics of using person-first language.

Does the proposed Kensington Investment Plan represent the community’s current needs or priorities? Is there anything missing?

I feel that there’s a lot missing. I feel our businesses are being taken away. Kensington Avenue is basically shut down. My son can’t even get his medicine at Walgreens. The community is just in an outrage over everything. 

Do you agree or disagree with the proposals under the “public safety strategy and expanded access to treatment” section and the “community cleaning and sanitation” section? Thoughts?

I definitely approve of it. I do think that once they get [people experiencing addiction] into treatment, they need to put them in some sort of housing. That will give them the chance to see the proper way of living and maybe give them that chance to get off the streets. 

I have 15 years clean and sober so I know what that’s like. I was never out there like that. But I feel the pain and the hopelessness when I have to walk through my neighborhood, and we shouldn’t have to feel that. And if I’m an adult feeling that, I can only imagine what our youth is going through.

Under the “restorative community investment for safety and quality of life” section, which issues do you feel should receive priority funding?

I agree with all of it. That is a great initiative. For the abandoned homes, the Community Life Improvement Program (CLIP) would come out. They would put boards up and all around and then the boards would be taken down the next day. Next thing you know, the house is catching fire. 

I am very much for new lighting. They just put a new LED light outside of my street on Frankford Avenue. I love it because at night sometimes I even think it’s morning still because it’s bright. But I have neighbors that have been calling the [councilmembers]. The block captain, she’s been calling everybody and trying to get the trash removed, the lots secured, the businesses brought back together, the cleaning of the streets, everything. What I think is most important is getting these abandoned homes fixed up the right way and not just putting wooden gates around for people to hop over. 

Do you agree or disagree that adding a fully-staffed police district or Police Service Area (PSA) will help police officers respond to underserved parts of Kensington?

I sure do. They should have one running all the way from Huntingdon Street, maybe even from York and Dauphin streets, all the way down to Tioga Street. I am totally in favor of that. And I also believe that, if cops were stationed in their own district, they would know the neighborhood. They’d know the neighbors. So they’d know who’s selling drugs. They’d know who’s the boss. They would know where to go. I’m more for the Police Service Area.

Editor’s note: The status of the proposed Kensington Police Special Services District is mentioned in the city’s Restore Kensington Action Plan. You can read more about that here.

Editor’s note: According to the Philadelphia Police Department, police officers aren’t assigned to patrol in districts where they live as a matter of longstanding practice. But, that shouldn’t obstruct their ability to provide quality and dedicated service to the communities they’re assigned.

What should be a part of the city’s treatment options to aid people experiencing addiction?

People experiencing addiction need more long-term care; 30 days is not enough. You’re just realizing who you are in 30 days and now you got to take care of your mental illness if that was a part before you started using drugs. And now 90% of the people out there have a mental illness and that’s why they use but don’t realize that. 

I think [people] should get a little more long-term care and help for at least three to six months and then get sent to a housing program where they monitor you and teach you how to be a productive member of society.

To read more Community Listening responses click here.


Editors: Zari Tarzona, Claire Wolters, Siani Colón / Designer: Henry Savage / Translator: Somlmaira Valerio

What did you think about this story? Send a note to editors@kensingtonvoice.com, and we’ll consider publishing it in our Voices section. You can also tell us what you think in person at our neighborhood events.

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