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Philadelphia city councilmembers form Kensington Caucus with hopes improving quality of life

4 Philadelphia city councilmembers form Kensington Caucus
4 Philadelphia city councilmembers form Kensington Caucus 02:10

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- A new effort is underway to help bring a brighter future to Philadelphia's Kensington section. A new caucus of four city councilmembers is being formed.

The four city councilmembers call Kensington home and say this caucus is about making their neighbors a priority.

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"Kensington is a priority for all of us," Councilwoman Quetcy Lozada said. 

City councilmembers Lozada, Mike Driscoll, Jim Harrity and Mark Squilla share a common goal. 

"The people that live there deserve a better quality of life," Lozada said. 

Each of the councilmembers lives in the drug torn neighborhood and on Thursday morning announced the formation of a Kensington Caucus in an effort to shut down Philadelphia's open-air drug market.

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"It's a challenge today," Squilla said. "When you have people standing from the stores, blocking doorways. People are afraid to go shopping because of a drug dealer staying out front."

The caucus will focus on prioritizing the voices of families, schools, businesses and nonprofits in the neighborhood. 

"We need to make sure that we have opportunities for the people who live in that community to open up businesses in that community and businesses in that community need the opportunity to thrive and survive," Squilla said. 

"We have to make sure folks that when they get on public transportation feel safe getting on the train, and while they are on the train, make sure their journey to their destination is a safe and comfortable one," Driscoll said. 

The city estimates that there are 700 people unsheltered and struggling with addiction on Kensington Avenue any given week.

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"Being homeless is not a crime. Selling drugs is a crime, so I understand that it's illegal for everything that's been happening, but let's address the problem," said Patrice Rogers, who runs Stop the Risk, an organization supporting her unsheltered neighbors battling addiction.

Rogers hopes neighbors will remain a priority with whatever plan Mayor Cherelle Parker's administration and council come up with and she hopes to be involved.

"Let's get these community leaders that's actually doing the work," Rogers said. "Let's get a hold of them."

The caucus says they hope to fund a city-run triage center in Kensington within the budget.

The final approval for the caucus will be considered by city council on Feb. 8. 

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