Shelter dissatisfies business proprietor on Smithfield Street.

The owners of four shops on Smithfield Street in Pittsburgh have spoken out about the growing issue of homelessness in the area. They say that the number of people without homes has become so severe that they are now being forced out of the city to deliver goods. As many as 100 homeless people can be found on the sidewalks each morning after leaving nearby shelters. The situation has been so bad that some business owners have reported an 85% drop in customer numbers.

One of the jewelry shop owners, Yuri Berkman, said that he now has to deliver goods to his customers outside of downtown Pittsburgh because they are unwilling to visit the area. He questioned why they were staying in the city at all if they have to meet customers in other areas. Other shop owners also reported feeling unsafe and have even lost employees due to the worsening situation.

New data from the county showed a 24% increase in homelessness over the past year, from 736 in 2022 to 913 in 2023. The opening of the 95-bed Second Avenue Commons has contributed to the rise in numbers as it includes people currently living there. Business owners believe that the county needs to provide more options for the homeless so that they are not concentrated in one area.

However, some groups, such as the Pittsburgh Area Tenants Association, argue that moving homeless people is cruel. They claim that the county is aware of the shortage of shelter beds and have criticized outgoing County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. The county has stated that it will find housing for those who want to relocate by the end of June. Meanwhile, the business owners on Smithfield Street are left struggling to operate in an area that they no longer recognize.

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