By WGAL Staff
HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (WGAL) — Harrisburg Mayor Wanda Williams and other city leaders held another news conference Friday morning about the homeless encampment under the Mulberry Street Bridge.
Williams was not at a news conference Thursday morning, where Harrisburg Director of Communications Matt Maisel detailed numerous problems at the encampment and announced the city’s intention to clear it out next Thursday.
UPDATE: At the start of Friday’s news conference, Williams said the city has received a lot of criticism since announcing the decision yesterday to clear out the camp. However, she said they are faced with a lot of different illegal activities as well as safety and health hazards.
WGAL reporter Ed Weinstock asked the mayor if she had gone down to the encampment to talk to people there.
“Yes, I have been down there and yes, we did talk to someone who told me he was the mayor and that I had to go to him first, talk to him, ask him any questions about anyone that’s down there,” Williams said.
City officials said they’re working on a plan to relocate the people who live in the camp. A meeting will be held next week to discuss a new location.
Once a site is determined, officials said the location won’t be made public.
Violence, drugs, rats at Harrisburg tent city About 50 to 65 people are living in tents under the bridge and problems have been getting worse lately.
“On a recent visit there, our workers were cleaning up when they encountered dozens of large rats in and out of trash receptacles. Some of our workers were nearly bitten,” Maisel said at Thursday’s press conference. “On top of that, our police officers have said the area under the Mulberry Street Bridge has seen a recent spike in violent crime, drug usage, overdoses, sex workers, rapes, stabbings and shootings.”
Harrisburg Public Works Director Dave West also spoke at Thursday’s news conference, saying conditions are dangerous at the homeless encampment.
“The rats are very large. They’re jumping out of the trash cans, they’re jumping out of the dumpsters as my employees are trying to haul the trash away,” West said. “Because it’s unsafe, they refused to do it any longer and I cannot make them pick the trash up.”
West wrapped up his remarks by saying the problems will only get worse if the city does not act.
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