Inside Pittsburgh’s Homeless Camps with Light of Life Rescue Mission

Pittsburgh is expected to eliminate homeless encampments in the second week of November. Before that happened, Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 published the Light of Life rescue mission as they reached out to the homeless. See the video above for the full story. Light of Life has spent 70 years on the streets with homeless people in Allegheny County. We learn that each homeless encampment has its own name, just like neighborhoods in Pittsburgh. Each is based on its location. This includes “Camp Casino” along the Ohio River, “Camp Stockton” on Sandusky Street on the north side, and “River Trail Camp” along the Allegheny River. Outreach Coordinator Michael Weisman knows homelessness as well as anyone. He was addicted to heroin and was homeless, but has been sober for 28 years. “It means a lot to me,” Weisman said. “It means maybe I have a chance to reach one person, if we only reach one person, help one person.” This group provides first aid kits, water, information for social service resources and other resources. Outreach supervisor Lloyd Massie said the homeless came from all counties surrounding Allegheny County. “And they’re from cities that I’ve never heard of outside of town,” Massie said. “A lot of people stereotype homelessness because they’re just city dwellers, they don’t want to work, they’re lazy. No, we don’t know the behind the scenes of their lives.” Light of Life Rescue Mission said women are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population. Brandy Sherrell is the Women’s Outreach Specialist. Sherrell describes how the group found a homeless mother with her toddler: “Both parents, homeless, mom and dad, with a 3-week-old baby under a bridge.” Government and non-profit groups say substance abuse, mental health issues and economic hardship are some of the painful circumstances that push people into homelessness. Courtney Lockerbie lives at Stockton Camp with her fiancé. She says she struggles with mental illness and addiction. “That’s the most important thing to me is my sanity,” Lockerbie said. “I have mental health issues that I take medication for.” The Light of Life outreach team directed Lockerbie to housing resources. “My priority now, today, right after this interview, is to call some of these places and see if I can find a home,” she said. Light of Life Executive Director Jerrell T. Gilliam said the city needs to build a system-wide network of government and private sector agencies tackling the source of homelessness. “I know they work with a certain philosophy,” Gilliam said. “But what I’m saying is we need a broader who will look after everyone based on their true needs. With a little help they can get up and go. before, so we have to get to know each of their stories.” Stories with happy endings – that’s the city and county’s challenge and the hope of the Light of Life Outreach Team. Everyone Action News 4 of Pittsburgh spoke to in this story agreed to be interviewed and shown on camera.

Pittsburgh is expected to eliminate homeless encampments in the second week of November.

Before that happened, Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 published the Light of Life rescue mission as they reached out to the homeless.

See the video above for the full story.


Light of Life has spent 70 years on the streets with homeless people in Allegheny County.

We learn that each homeless encampment has its own name, just like neighborhoods in Pittsburgh.

Each is based on its location. This includes “Camp Casino” along the Ohio River, “Camp Stockton” on Sandusky Street on the north side, and “River Trail Camp” along the Allegheny River.

Outreach Coordinator Michael Weisman knows homelessness as well as anyone. He was a heroin addict and homeless, but he has been sober for 28 years.

“It means a lot to me,” Weisman said. “It means maybe I have a chance to reach one person, if we only reach one person, help one person.”

This group provides first aid kits, water, information for social service resources and other resources.

Outreach supervisor Lloyd Massie said the homeless came from all counties surrounding Allegheny County.

“And they’re from cities that I’ve never heard of outside of town,” Massie said. “A lot of people stereotype homelessness because they’re just city dwellers, they don’t want to work, they’re lazy. No, we don’t know the behind the scenes of their lives.”

Light of Life Rescue Mission said women are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population.

Brandy Sherrell is the Women’s Outreach Specialist. Sherrell describes how the group found a homeless mother with her toddler: “Both parents, homeless, mom and dad, with a 3-week-old baby under a bridge.”

Government and non-profit groups say substance abuse, mental health issues and economic hardship are some of the painful circumstances that push people into homelessness.

Courtney Lockerbie lives at Stockton Camp with her fiancé. She says she struggles with mental illness and addiction.

“That’s the most important thing to me is my sanity,” Lockerbie said. “I have mental health issues that I take medication for.”

The Light of Life outreach team directed Lockerbie to housing resources.

“My priority now, today, right after this interview, is to call some of these places and see if I can find a home,” she said.

Light of Life Executive Director Jerrell T. Gilliam said the city needs to build a system-wide network of government and private sector agencies tackling the source of homelessness.

“I know they have a certain philosophy that they work with,” Gilliam said. “But what I’m saying is we need a broader who will look after everyone based on their true needs. With a little help they can get up and go. before, so we have to get to know each of their stories.”

Stories with happy endings – that’s the city and county’s challenge and the hope of the Light of Life Outreach Team.


Everyone Action News 4 of Pittsburgh spoke to in this story agreed to be interviewed and shown on camera.