Winter days are nasty on the streets of Kensington. Icy winds are blowing from the Delaware River, a cold front is approaching from Canada, and the forecast calls for snow and frost for the greater Philadelphia area. It’s the end of January.

Hundreds of junkies gather around small campfires on the sidewalks of Kensington Avenue, pressing their emaciated bodies against those of their neighbors. They have wrapped themselves in layers of woolen blankets that they wear like cloaks. Only her hair shows through and her dented fingers, black with soot and dirt, like those of coal miners. Many have been living outdoors here for two years, even in snow and ice and the violent coastal storms known as nor’easters.

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