One of the most popular spots has always been behind the Dauphin County Administrative building, on the corner of River and Blackberry Streets.
A number of recent incidents have led Dauphin County to ask volunteers to no longer set up their ministries at that location. People have been using the parking lot, the fountains and the ATM in the front of the building as a bathroom. Employees of the bank and the county have also expressed safety concerns.
“This is the county building but we have tenants here that are non-county. We have a duty to provide them a safe space and protect their equipment as well. The bank has received complaints by their consumers and their customers and we have a duty to respond to that,” said Burford. “We have staff that work here off hours, 24/7 and when they make their rounds, or are walking from county building to county building, they have experienced issues.”
“Over the last four or five years we’ve seen nationally about a 40% increase in homelessness and that tracks very well here at Harrisburg,” said Ted Ross with the Bethesda Mission.
“40% of them have some sort of drug and alcohol dependency that caused them to be homeless. That is something we need to look at. That’s something we need to address,” said Burford.
“Whether it’s a volunteer or if it’s a homeless person, I don’t think the county has any desire to round up all of the homeless people and throw them in jail, but there is a certain area there that they will have to be careful that they are not in that area,” said Ross.