Shocking footage from Philadelphia’s ‘ZOMBIE Skid Row’ shows groups of opioid-addicted homeless men struggling to STAND amid needle-littered streets of filth and trash can fire

Ariel Zilber For Dailymail.com

Homeless men lie on the sidewalk while others wearing blankets and rags loiter on a street strewn with garbage, feces, and drug paraphernalia along the notorious Kensington Avenue drag in Philadelphia. Video posted online on March 10 shows people living out of suitcases on the sidewalks in the area adjacent to the entrance to the Somerset train station along the Market-Frankford train line while others openly brandish needles. Cardboard boxes with trash bags stacked on top of them lie feet away from the entrances to various pawn shops, check-cashing stores, delis, and bodegas.

Rampant drug use and homelessness could be observed near the intersection of Kensington Avenue and Somerset Street in Philadelphia

Rampant drug use and homelessness could be observed near the intersection of Kensington Avenue and Somerset Street in Philadelphia

The image above shows a man holding a needle. Kensington Avenue is known as a go-to destination for drug addicts and dealers who can obtain cheap narcotics

The image above shows a man holding a needle. Kensington Avenue is known as a go-to destination for drug addicts and dealers who can obtain cheap narcotics

The image above shows people covered in blankets as they sleep on pieces of cardboard on a sidewalk strewn with litter

The image above shows people covered in blankets as they sleep on pieces of cardboard on a sidewalk strewn with litter

The image above shows a man sleeping on the sidewalk of Kensington Avenue in Philadelphia

The image above shows a man sleeping on the sidewalk of Kensington Avenue in Philadelphia

The Kensington section of Philadelphia was once a blue-collar factory neighborhood that was devastated by the deindustrialization of the 1950s and the subsequent 'white flight' to the suburbs

The Kensington section of Philadelphia was once a blue-collar factory neighborhood that was devastated by the deindustrialization of the 1950s and the subsequent ‘white flight’ to the suburbs

Several people are covered in blankets as they sleep on pieces of cardboard surrounded by thrown-out wrappers, beer cans, cigarette boxes, plastic bags, and an assortment of litter and debris.

Near the entrance to the Blue Line train station, several men can be seen out in the open smoking, though what they are using is unclear.

Other men nearby are slumped over, having trouble keeping their balance. One man wearing a hoodie is completely bent over as he is standing, struggling to stay on his feet while on the verge of falling over.

While the video was taken while there was sunlight outside, economic activity in the area appears to be nonexistent as stores are shuttered. The area is home to several pubs and Chinese takeout joints.

The image above shows several people crowded near the entrance to the local 'El' train station

The image above shows several people crowded near the entrance to the local ‘El’ train station

The image above shows a man using his hands to take trash out of a trash bag on the sidewalk

The image above shows a man using his hands to take trash out of a trash bag on the sidewalk

Litter and debris could be seen strewn across the sidewalk of Kensington Avenue in Philadelphia

Litter and debris could be seen strewn across the sidewalk of Kensington Avenue in Philadelphia

While the video was taken while there was sunlight outside, economic activity in the area appears to be nonexistent as stores are shuttered. The area is home to several pubs and Chinese takeout joints.

While the video was taken while there was sunlight outside, economic activity in the area appears to be nonexistent as stores are shuttered. The area is home to several pubs and Chinese takeout joints.

The intersection of Somerset and Kensington Avenue has earned various nicknames including ¿the Walmart of Heroin,¿ ¿Philadelphia¿s Skid Row,¿ and ¿the latest open-air drug market on the East Coast¿

The intersection of Somerset and Kensington Avenue has earned various nicknames including ‘the Walmart of Heroin,’ ‘Philadelphia’s Skid Row,’ and ‘the latest open-air drug market on the East Coast’

Several people could be seen sleeping on the sidewalks using blankets to cover themselves

Several people could be seen sleeping on the sidewalks using blankets to cover themselves

Kensington is known among addicts as an area where they can get both the cheapest and purest heroin in the area

Kensington is known among addicts as an area where they can get both the cheapest and purest heroin in the area

Dealers from as far as Delaware, Maryland, and New Jersey frequent the area to stock up on supplies before returning home to peddle the narcotics

Dealers from as far as Delaware, Maryland, and New Jersey frequent the area to stock up on supplies before returning home to peddle the narcotics

Cardboard boxes with trash bags stacked on top of them lie feet away from the entrances to various pawn shops, check-cashing stores, delis, and bodegas

Cardboard boxes with trash bags stacked on top of them lie feet away from the entrances to various pawn shops, check-cashing stores, delis, and bodegas

The image above shows one man who appears to be living out of a suitcase as he covers himself with a blanket

The image above shows one man who appears to be living out of a suitcase as he covers himself with a blanket

The intersection of Somerset and Kensington Avenue has earned various nicknames including ‘the Walmart of Heroin,’ ‘Philadelphia’s Skid Row,’ and ‘the latest open-air drug market on the East Coast.’ Kensington is known among addicts as an area where they can get both the cheapest and purest heroin in the area. Dealers from as far as Delaware, Maryland, and New Jersey frequent the area to stock up on supplies before returning home to peddle the narcotics, according to The New York Times. In recent years, however, some of the heroin had been mixed with fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, resulting in a spike of deaths. In 2017, 236 people suffered fatal overdoses as a result of drugs they purchased and used in Kensington. More than 1,200 people fatally overdosed in Philadelphia in 2017, one-third more than 2016. At the time, Philadelphia County had the highest overdose rate among the top 10 most populous counties in America. According to the latest figures, 1,150 people died of drug overdoses in Philadelphia in 2019. An estimated 80 per cent of those resulted in overdoses involving opioids, a class of drugs that includes heroin and pharmaceutical painkillers like oxycodone, according to the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.

According to the latest figures, 1,150 people died of drug overdoses in Philadelphia in 2019

According to the latest figures, 1,150 people died of drug overdoses in Philadelphia in 2019

Fentanyl has been blamed for being the main driver of fatal overdoses. In 2019, 94 per cent of opioid involved deaths had positive detections for fentanyl or a fentanyl analog

Fentanyl has been blamed for being the main driver of fatal overdoses. In 2019, 94 per cent of opioid involved deaths had positive detections for fentanyl or a fentanyl analog

The city saw a large spike in the number of fatal overdoses involving opioids, namely fentanyl, beginning in 2017

The city saw a large spike in the number of fatal overdoses involving opioids, namely fentanyl, beginning in 2017

Most of those who have died of fatal overdoses in 2019 are between the ages of 25 and 54 years old, according to the city's Medical Examiner's Office+33

Most of those who have died of fatal overdoses in 2019 are between the ages of 25 and 54 years old, according to the city’s Medical Examiner’s Office

More than two-thirds of fatal drug overdoses in Philadelphia were among men, according to the latest data from 2019

More than two-thirds of fatal drug overdoses in Philadelphia were among men, according to the latest data from 2019

Some half of fatal overdoses in Philadelphia in 2019 were among those considered 'white, non-Hispanic'

Some half of fatal overdoses in Philadelphia in 2019 were among those considered ‘white, non-Hispanic’

The circled image above shows the zip code that encompasses Kensington Avenue. It saw the highest number of fatal overdoses of all zip codes in the city

The circled image above shows the zip code that encompasses Kensington Avenue. It saw the highest number of fatal overdoses of all zip codes in the city

Fentanyl has been blamed for being the main driver of fatal overdoses. In 2019, 94 per cent of opioid involved deaths had positive detections for fentanyl or a fentanyl analog. In 2017, fentanyl became the most commonly detected drug among those who died of an overdose, overtaking cocaine. Before 2017, heroin was the drug of choice, but use of the narcotic has dipped, according to city data. The opioid problem deteriorated to the point where Philadelphia officials wanted to allow the opening of a ‘safe injection site.’ Safe injection sites are locations where people can shoot up under the supervision of a doctor or nurse who can administer an overdose antidote if necessary. But the plans to open the site have stalled after the federal courts ruled that it violated US law. Proponents of safe injection sites said that it has been proven to prevent overdose deaths in places where they operate, including Canada and Europe. Opponents claim that they encourage the use of deadly narcotics. Last month, the regional transportation agency SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority) shut down the nearby Somerset train station after two elevators littered with urine, feces, and syringes needed repairs.

Last month, the regional transportation system SEPTA shut down the train station in the area after the elevator used to ferry passengers to the platform broke down. The elevator had been littered with feces (above), drug paraphernalia, needles, and debrisLast month, the regional transportation system SEPTA shut down the train station in the area after the elevator used to ferry passengers to the platform broke down. The elevator had been littered with feces (above), drug paraphernalia, needles, and debris

Last month, the regional transportation system SEPTA shut down the train station in the area after the elevator used to ferry passengers to the platform broke down. The elevator had been littered with feces (above), drug paraphernalia, needles, and debris

On social media, Philadelphia transit riders posted images of homeless people using train stations for shelter during the cold, winter months

On social media, Philadelphia transit riders posted images of homeless people using train stations for shelter during the cold, winter months

The train station at the corner of Kensington and Somerset is notorious for its grime and filth

The train station at the corner of Kensington and Somerset is notorious for its grime and filth

The image above shows a homeless person's belongings on one of the transit trains servicing Philadelphia

The image above shows a homeless person’s belongings on one of the transit trains servicing Philadelphia

Zach and Bri move their belonging out of the subway they have been inhabiting for the past several months on March 31

Zach and Bri move their belonging out of the subway they have been inhabiting for the past several months on March

The image above shows cleaning crews at a Philadelphia station after a homeless encampment there was removed on March 31The image above shows cleaning crews at a Philadelphia station after a homeless encampment there was removed on March 31

The image above shows cleaning crews at a Philadelphia station after a homeless encampment there was removed on March 31

The closure was announced after SEPTA employees reported being harassed and threatened by the homeless and addicts in the area, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. More people have sought shelter in SEPTA stations during the cold winter months. The COVID-19 pandemic has also forced the city to impose social distancing in its shelters, leaving many on the streets. ‘The idea of taking a station out of service is something we don’t take lightly,’ SEPTA spokesman Andrew Busch said. ‘It is a last resort.’ In recent weeks, several social media posts from riders include disturbing images and photographs of feces, litter, and needles in the SEPTA station. The images included the hashtag #HeroinExpress. Worker unions representing the SEPTA employees said they need better protection at the station. ‘Our people are in danger,’ said Transit Workers Local 234 President Willie Brown. ‘The stations have been taken over by homeless people … also you have drug dealers out there, you have people shooting up out there, the whole nine yards.

Video uploaded to YouTube shows a large group of people seeking warmth last Wednesday on Kensington Avenue in northeast Philadelphia

Video uploaded to YouTube shows a large group of people seeking warmth last Wednesday on Kensington Avenue in northeast Philadelphia

The area is notorious for the ease with which people can buy illegal narcotics and prescription opioids

The area is notorious for the ease with which people can buy illegal narcotics and prescription opioids

The video, which was posted to YouTube by a user with the handle name ¿HoodTime,¿ was filmed last Wednesday

The video, which was posted to YouTube by a user with the handle name ‘HoodTime,’ was filmed last Wednesday 

During the indefinite closure of the station, shuttle buses will provide service to nearby Allegheny Station as well as Huntington Station. Brown said that when shuttle buses arrive to pick up riders at the Somerset station, people swarm and get on board. He said that people ‘smoke weed, shoot drugs, throw things at drivers’ and refuse to pay the fare. According to the latest city data, there are 5,700 Philadelphians who are considered to meet the definition of ‘homeless.’ Of those, 950 are reported to be ‘unsheltered.’ The city says that homelessness in City Center and Kensington are more visible due to construction and fewer public spaces for people to live unnoticed. Despite the horrific scenes from the area, the city says that Philadelphia has the lowest number of street homeless per capita of any of the largest cities in the US.  

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