PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Some people have set up tents near Mayor Bill Peduto’s house to protest a homeless tent city on the North Side.
As of Friday morning, two tents were set up near his home in Point Breeze. He’s calling it a political stunt.
“This is absurdity, and it is also probably the lowest thing I’ve seen in Pittsburgh politics,” Peduto said.
But Councilwoman Darlene Harris, Peduto’s opponent in the Democratic primary for mayor, says, “This is another stupid move by the mayor.”
The encampment appears to be in response to a tent city on Howard Street on the North Side that is being allowed by the city.
The tent city is part of a Pittsburgh initiative, sponsored by the Homeless Outreach Coordinating Committee. Earlier this month, the Mayor’s Office said those homeless people have the city’s permission to be there and to live there.
Peduto appears to be blaming Harris for the protest encampment near his home. However, Harris says she has no idea how those tents got put up in Point Breeze.
“I did not know that they were sending out people or taking homeless out there. I can’t even tell you where the mayor lives. I’ve never been to his home,” she said.
On Friday, Peduto said he’s working to relocate the homeless people living in the camp on the North Side.
“You can’t eliminate them like she wants to do, by throwing in police and taking all of their possessions,” said Peduto. “You need to help to find them homes.”
While Harris denies a connection to the Point Breeze camp, days ago she said: “If Mr. Peduto wants to take these people up, he has a nice home that he can put these people in, and on his porch or wherever around his neighborhood, and see how he likes it.”
Peduto says he’s working with social agencies and they’ve identified the eight homeless people living in the North Side neighborhood. He says he’ll find them homes, just like he claims the city has done for hundreds of others, including homeless vets.
But for Harris, she claims its another broken promise.
Meanwhile, North Side residents have expressed their outrage about the tent city.
According to residents, public urination and defecation are only part of the problem.
“They’re stealing some of the tarps that we use to cover our summer things, some of our lawn furniture is missing, they come through here intoxicated in the evening, trying to find a way down over the hillside,” said Maryann Buggey, of the North Side. “There’s a home down the street where they’re actually living in the subbasement. They keep boarding it up and the homeless keep taking the board off, and they now have buckets where they’re urinating in.”
Buggey says she’s asked Peduto to drop by her street where, until now, she has always felt safe.
One man said if the city wants the homeless to remain on that property, the mayor should provide water buffaloes, portable toilets, garbage containers and a cleanup crew.
As for the tents near his home, he has asked the police chief to not remove them. However, if his neighbors complain, the police will do something about it.
“I’ve advised the chief and the commander not to remove them. If one of my neighbors wants them removed, they’ll be removed,” said Peduto.