Couple living under Allentown bridge must leave but have nowhere to go

Written by on June 18, 2021

Couple living under Allentown bridge must leave but have nowhere to go

By Ben Stemrich

June 18, 2021

A homeless couple has been living under an Allentown bridge for months. Lehigh County officials had given them until this week to move out. 

Now the city council is involved, raising the question: where should homeless people in the Lehigh Valley be allowed to stay? 

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The couple, Keith and Vikki and their dog have lived under the Hamilton and 4th Street Bridge since tent city was shut down late last year. 

Allentown City Councilmember Ce-Ce Gerlach says she checked in with Rick Molchany, Director of General Services for Lehigh County, on June 17 to find out why the couple had to move.

“And there’s been no problems. I asked if there had been any complaints and he said no. Have you seen or anyone seen any structural damage to the bridge? No,” Gerlach says. 

But Molchany says there have been complaints about trash and that the couple had been told in April they had to be gone by June 17. 

“In the event that the bridge, which is a $25 million asset, would become compromised in some way or individuals were hurt on the property, the liability risk to the county would be extreme,” Molchany says. 

Both Molchany and Gerlach say Mayor Ray O’Connell intends to help the couple find housing as soon as possible. 

Gerlach says this is part of a much bigger problem.

“Keith and Vikki are representative of a lot of people who are experiencing homelessness, sleeping under bridges, sleeping in tents in woods. If we don’t have a program, a path for them to go into, then where are they to go?” Gerlach says. 

Molchany says Lehigh County is expecting over $300,000 in funding for nonprofits that help with people going through similar transitions.

The couple declined to be interviewed. WLVR also reached out to Mayor Ray O’Connell for comment but did not hear back immediately.

“The reality is we don’t want to kick people out with nowhere to go,” Molchany says, “So the city, the mayor of Allentown is working on this specifically right now in an attempt to find them alternative housing.”

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