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Extermination of Harrisburg homeless encampment about halfway done

The city says about 30 rats per week are being caught and killed by several traps in the encampment area.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Behind the metal fences lining the former homeless encampment under the Mulberry Street Bridge in Harrisburg, several black boxes are bolted to the ground.

"There are a number of these traps located up and down S. 10th Street underneath the Mulberry Street Bridge," said Matt Maisel, director of communications for the City of Harrisburg. “[The rat] will crawl up a little area that will then drop it down, it’s like a trap door and then it’s squashed.”

Maisel said since the traps were set up on Feb. 6, about 30 rodents a week are caught and killed.

"The fact that we’re picking up 30 rats a week in these traps is evident and proof of the fact that there was a problem here and it had to be addressed," said Maisel.

Rats weren’t the only issue that led the city to clear out the encampment last month. 

Violent crime was also on the rise, but since the site was cleaned up, police have had no reported incidents.

“You’re not seeing drug deals down here, you’re not seeing violent acts because there’s no population here for that to deal with," added Maisel.

The individuals who were living under the bridge have gone to other places, such as the encampment on Front Street, and the city continues to support them.

“We’ve met them with trash services. We’ve put additional port-a-potties up at the PennDOT encampment to deal with the increase in people there," said Maisel.

As far as when the fences could come down, Maisel says time will tell.

“To start we estimated about 6-8 weeks," he explained. "I would say we’re probably on that schedule but if after six weeks, there’s still a rat issue we’re going to keep these fences up as long as we need to.”

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