PennDOT, public works, police plan to clear North Side homeless camps on Monday

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PITTSBURGH —

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), Pittsburgh Public Works and city police plan to clear out homeless camps on the North Side on Monday, citing public safety and trespassing.

Channel 11’s Trisha Pittman went to one of these camps and found that everyone living there has a different story.
Dennis Burns told Pittman that he is clean, sober and plans to move into an apartment eventually.

"Subcontractors are working on it as we speak. As soon as they're done with it and we can have it, we'll be in it and we'll be off the street," said Burns. "We're homeless, not helpless. Let us try to pick up ourselves and better ourselves. We're trying to do that."

Lawrence Allen said he is addicted to drugs and doesn’t want to be confined by walls.

"I just want to live, basically, I want to be free. I'm not anti-social at all. My prison experience corrected those notions and practices," said Allen.

Operation Safety Net is helping to relocate the homeless living in these camps, letting the people decide where they want to go.

"This is dependent on what these guys think they need to do. We're here to help. We're not here to dictate," said Mike Sallows of Operation Safety Net.

PennDOT officials said fighting, fires and drugs have been a constant problem in the camps. A fence is planned to be put up once the area is cleared.

"What are we supposed to do? We're people. We're not animals. We may be down, but we're not over," said Burns.

City officials said about 12 homeless camps are cleared each year and rarely meet much resistance.