Occupy Philly faced new challenges yesterday as the number of homeless joining its ranks continued to grow.
"We want them, but we're really busy trying to meet their needs," said a member of Occupy's security team. She said that organizers have been reaching out to advocacy groups who are experienced in dealing with mental health issues.
"We've been taking in full families. The shelter system has failed so badly," she said.
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Several occupiers reported cases of MRSA, a contagious strain of staph infection that does not respond to some antibiotics, and expressed concerns about the coming flu season. Medics are attempting to secure a donor so they can offer flu shots.
Food is also an issue, with the number of meals served growing exponentially at a rate of as many as 500 extra plates per day. "We've been able to do it, but the staff is beginning to feel overwhelmed," an organizer said. About 2,500 hot meals were served yesterday.
Despite resource strain, the homeless are becoming better integrated with the movement. "They say the police used to wake them up every two hours and make them move. Now, as they're getting six straight hours of sleep a night and consistent meals, they're calming down," an organizer said. "They're actually joining groups and beginning to work."
Yesterday, occupiers marched on Wells Fargo bank on Broad Street, protested against the Hill Corporation outside the Graham Building and joined BJ-32 workers in solidarity as they left strike negotiations with City Council.