Suleiman Hassan & SyfahDeen Hassan
Founders of Soldiers for Recovery
1. How does the closure of Somerset Station affect you and people in the neighborhood? What challenges may you face in accessing transportation now?
Suleiman: It’s definitely going to affect the people in the neighborhood because people have to go to work, kids that are allowed to go to school need to go to school. … So, now they have to go down two stops, or maybe another stop, to get home when they live right around the corner. It’s very dangerous. It impacts the businesses. It impacts the people that live around here in this district.
2. What are the conditions like at Somerset Station and on the Market-Frankford Line? How do they affect you?
SyfahDeen: Extremely uninhabitable. There are feces on the chairs. You have to step over human beings [and] human waste. It’s bad enough that there’s coronavirus going on.
3. What kinds of solutions could be implemented to create safe and reliable transportation in Kensington?
SyfahDeen: First of all, we’ve got to keep things clean. If you see someone in an inebriated state, [they shouldn’t] come on a train because this is not what that’s for. Ain’t nobody telling nobody how to be or rule people’s lives, but we have to have some kind of common sense. Just because this is where [people in addiction] come, doesn’t mean we all are like that. That’s their life choice. There are people with families and children in this area. And everybody is not fortunate enough to leave this area. So, they have to be here and raise their children. Don’t judge us by these people that chose a bad path. And not to write off these people that chose a bad path, because my brother chose a bad path as well. But through his experience, he was able to get himself back, and now he’s here today, because we were the support. That’s what we’re doing today, we’re being the support for people that don’t have the family.
4. Should there be a community-led advisory board, made up of stakeholders like the City, SEPTA, Kensington residents, civic associations, nonprofits, and businesses, that comes up with a plan for reopening the Somerset Station and provides long term solutions to the problems that led to its closure?
SyfahDeen: Absolutely. I believe the solution should come from people that live in the area. You know how the suburbs have Neighborhood Watch? I believe this area should have Neighborhood Watch.
Suleiman: It should be organized by the people that were [in addiction], as well as people that live in the community. [An advisory-board] is something that should be in place. It should be discussed as a preventive action moving forward because I’ve seen the system. When [leaders] want an area cleaned up, they get an area cleaned up. But unfortunately, due to the powers that be, or people that are in charge, they rather take the money and turn a blind eye.
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