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  • Writer's pictureMichael Hays

Volunteers Fill Seven Dumpsters from Pottstown Encampment

I might be guilty of naivete in believing that our two major political parties can work together to solve major problems. Call me nostalgic, I don’t know …

My belief received a booster shot on Saturday when over 50 people turned out in Pottstown to help pick up trash from a mostly abandoned homeless encampment. Organized by The Deviators – a non-profit in Bally – the pool of volunteers included State Sen. Tracy Pennycuick (Rep.) and State Reps. Joe Ciresi and Napoleon Nelson (Dem.).  **Full disclosure: I work in Ciresi’s district office. 

From left: Rep. Napoleon Nelson, Pottstown Councilor Trenita Lindsay, Pottstown School Board member John Armato, Rep. Joe Ciresi, Sen. Tracy Pennycuick, Bally Councilman Josh Sloan, Pottstown Mayor Stephanie Henrick, Pottstown Councilor Lisa Vanni, Sherman Ellis Jr., and his son, Destin (front).

Elsewhere during Saturday’s cleanup, Chris Brickhouse, the director of Better Days Ahead who has a pending lawsuit against Pottstown Borough, pitched in as he usually does, as did Pottstown Mayor Stephanie Henrick and Council members Trenita Lindsay and Lisa Vanni. As we filled bags, I mentioned to Henrick and Lindsay my optimism around working together across the county to find solutions. All three commissioners - two Democrats and a Republican - seem to be working in tandem to help ameliorate the number of unhoused people and the skyrocketing cost of housing. 

This is a deviation from what we have grown accustomed to. 

A reporter from the Mercury covered the cleanup, highlighting a few of the remarks made by elected officials:

“I want to thank everyone who came out today,” said state Sen. Tracey Pennycuick, R-24th Dist. “We realize this is a problem beyond just Pottstown and we are working to find a solution.”

“I have no words for what it’s like back there,” said Ciresi who nevertheless found a few more words to offer. “We cannot as a society continue to allow people to live like this. This is not a Pottstown issue, this is everywhere.”

“My friend (Pottstown Councilwoman Trenita Lindsay) likes to say ‘it takes a village,'” said Pottstown Mayor Stephanie Henrick. “But what we’re seeing here today is a bigger village than just Pottstown. It took some people from outside the borough to say ‘I have a plan, let’s go.'”

In the coming weeks, specific recommendations from the Montco Forward subcommittees will be released to the public. The Affordable Housing and Homelessness Advisory Committee, chaired by Emma Hertz and Kim Krauter, included 44 members from local government, non-profits, and service providers. The Montco 30% Project did participate in the drafting of the recommendations. 

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