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Missions that help the homeless told to move to another area

Updated: Monday, September 23 2013, 06:53 PM CDT
Reported by: Jesse Knutson

HARRISBURG -- Local groups and ministries have worked together for years to feed the homeless population in Harrisburg, but now they’re being told that they’re no longer allowed to gather in the parking lot between Dauphin County Courthouse and the Dauphin County Administration Building.

‘No loitering’ signs were put in the windows of the Citizens Bank, which shares a building with the Administration building, after the bank complained that the homeless had been urinating on its ATM machine.

“We’ve had public urination, we’ve had defecation we’ve had urination on private cars, employee cars, and recently we had a citation issue,” Scott Burford, Dauphin County Deputy Chief Clerk, said.

“We have tenants here in this building that have voiced complaints, we have employees who have voiced complaints, concerns, and as a response to that, the county has began to network with the ministries and all the service providers involved to come up with an alternate solution,” he added.

Bethesda Mission is one of the groups that work to feed the homeless, and they say they understand why this has to be done.

“You can’t have people using an alcove as a restroom,” Ken Ross, Director of Community Relations at Bethesda Mission, said. Now groups have to find alternatives to the location in the parking lot, and Bethesda Mission says the word has traveled.

“What we saw was that some of the people that we normally serve at that location,” Ross explained. “They know where we stop other places as well, so they just kind of gravitated to some of the other stops that we have.”

Now the groups feeding the homeless and Dauphin County are working together to create a plan that works for all groups involved, adding that they want the support to continue and that they hope no arrests are made.

“They don’t have any desire to be throwing people away from the city or rounding them up and putting them in prison or anything,” Ross explained.

Burford agreed, adding, “That’s not the solution we want. We want to find a place where it is safe and comfortable for everyone.”

Burford says the new plan is a work in progress, and they’re hoping to work with the Capital Area Coalition on Homeless to find the best solution. 
Missions that help the homeless told to move to another area


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