Homeless in side of Point State Park, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from daveynin’s photostream

Efforts to continue despite shameful political stunts degrading homeless by Councilwoman Darlene Harris

PITTSBURGH, PA (April 28, 2017) Mayor William Peduto’s Administration is continuing to address the plight of the City’s homeless population, despite the shameful and politically motivated attacks on the homeless by City Councilwoman Darlene Harris.

For the last three years – working with the nationally recognized homeless advocates at Operation Safety Net – the City has cared for and aided the City’s homeless residents, most of whom were forced onto the streets after losing their jobs or suffering other life-changing catastrophes.

As part of those efforts advocates – working together with neighborhood and community leaders, and with the kind help of officers at police Zone 1 — have lately supported the establishment of transitional homeless camp spaces. The spaces allow for homeless individuals and families to move away from highly public spaces by parks, schools and businesses to more secluded sites, such as that on Howard Street in the North Side. The transitional sites allow Operation Safety Net and others to help supply medical and other care for homeless residents in one place, rather than in scattered sites, and to work to help them find new homes.

Lately Councilwoman Harris has been exploiting such homeless communities for the absolutely lowest of political reasons, in an attempt to drive a wedge between City residents with homes and those living on the street. The Councilwoman has gone so far as to bizarrely accuse Mayor Peduto of paying homeless people to move into her district for political purposes. And she has supported putting up tents near Mayor Peduto’s own home, which is not only a cheap political move, but also a cruel mockery of the living conditions of real homeless people.

“Is the law only for some people, or is it for everyone? If [Mayor Peduto] cares that much he needs to find some place around his house,” the Councilwoman said Thursday night, shortly before the sham homeless site was erected by the Mayor’s home in Point Breeze.

“Councilwoman Harris is exploiting some of our most vulnerable neighbors,” Mayor Peduto said today. “In Pittsburgh we proudly take care of each other and help our neighbors in need. These are human beings, not political pawns.”

Many of the City’s homeless the past few years were military veterans who lost their homes after serving our nation. Working with Operation Safety Net, Allegheny County, the Veterans Leadership Program and others, in the last three years the City has helped drive the number of homeless veterans from an estimated 400 down to less than 40 citywide.

The City and other advocates will not stop their efforts to care for homeless neighbors, even as Councilwoman Harris degrades them for shameful political purposes. Once her political stunts are over, the City can only hope she takes the plight of homeless people as seriously as she does one of the circus animals she rode recently.

“Those animals are taken care of better than some people take care of people,” she said.