Why is Kensington Considered the Epicenter for the Opiate Crisis? 

Why is Kensington Considered the Epicenter for the Opiate Crisis? 

In 2016, the opioid crisis took the United States by storm. Conventional and middle-class neighborhoods around the country also began to see drug use which was shocking due to the stigma of addiction. What was discovered is that no one is safe to the insidiousness of drugs and alcohol addiction because no gender, race, or class is spared when it comes to addiction. 

In 2017, frightening local photos with open drug use portrayed a low-income neighborhood in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania named Kensington. Large heroin encampments started popping up which was where people intravenously used their drugs and then littered their needles. The community became known as an uncontrolled community of panhandling, theft, drug abuse, prostitution, and rape. Not only were their needles everywhere, but trash was piled up from people living on the streets and under bridges due to the homeless population more than doubling. In 2018, the nation would see the photos in Time magazine that finally moved people to try and make a difference in the death toll.

How did Kensington get so bad?

Kensington had been the place to get illicit drugs for decades due to the factory setting that made it easy to sell drugs. People would drive from New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania to collect their Cocaine, Crack, or Heroin for use. What hit the community the hardest is when Opioids, especially Fentanyl, hit the scene. The overdose rate increased due to these extremely potent pharmaceutical drugs that continue to wreak havoc.

How is Kensington doing today?

At the end of 2018, a plan of action was declared in the plagued Kensington that outlined how to stop the insanity of addiction along with putting sanitation improvements into place. A large-scaled cleanup was conducted by the neighborhood to discard the trash pileup and clear out the heroin encampments along with safely disposing of the used drug paraphernalia. Another improvement included launching a mobile addiction treatment team to help those who felt like they did not have a way out of their situation. 

Kensington has continued to work towards its goals from October 2018 into 2020, and beyond, with the Philadelphia Resilience Project which has offered a resolution in aiding the addicted homeless community with housing, health services, and addiction treatment. Thirty-five city departments stepped up to help make this instrumental change take place and help to change the face of Kensington to one of hope. 

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