WEST PHILADELPHIA. Milton Williams has been displaced from his Osage Avenue home twice. He’s watched his neighborhood slowly waste away. And vandals and vagrants have crept in like unwanted pests.
But today when residents and city leaders mark the 25th anniversary of the MOVE bombing, which killed 11 people in one of the darkest moments in the city’s history, Williams won’t be thinking about the past.
“I’m more concerned about the future of these houses since the Street administration left office,” said the 61-year-old, who has lived on the block since 1976. “This is a blight that the city of Philadelphia has created.”
The city rebuilt the homes, but then-Mayor John Street offered residents money to vacate due to unfinished repairs or face having their homes demolished. The neighbors won a lengthy court battle, but are still waiting for the city to commit to finishing the rebuilding or buy their homes.
Mayor Michael Nutter’s press secretary, Doug Oliver, said the neighborhood is among several blighted areas the city hopes to address.
“Our challenge is to find the economic environment that allows us to address these concerns across the board,” Oliver said. “Redevelopment comes with a price tag and therein lies the challenge for us right now.”
Williams insisted he will stand his ground.
“This is my first house,” he said. “I plan to die here.”