Homeless Woman Slept in Downtown Lobby

42-year-old woman charged with trespassing after police found her curled up and sleeping in the lobby of building just off of Main Street.


A homeless woman who told police she has been sleeping in a Historic District office building to stay out of the cold has been charged with criminal trespass and for now will be sleeping inside Northampton County Prison.

Elizabeth Jean Rivera, 42, was found early Thursday “curled up, covered with a blanket and sleeping in a small alcove on the bottom floor of the building” at 79 W. Market St., according to a criminal complaint filed by Bethlehem police Officer Michelle Dologite.

The building, which is just west of Historic Main Street, houses CRB Properties, the complaint says.

Dologite writes that she and another officer were assigned to check 79 W. Market St. for “homeless persons” sleeping in the building. A person connected to CRB Properties had requested extra patrols due to “resident complaints,” Dologite said.

She and the other officer found Rivera – a small woman listed as 4-feet-7 and 90 pounds – at 12:21am. Rivera said she had been “sleeping in the hallways for the past few months to stay out of the cold.”

Rivera was arraigned at 3:30am Thursday by on-duty District Judge Joseph Barner of Lower Nazareth Township on the criminal trespass charge – a level-three felony. She was committed to county prison in lieu of $1,000 bail.

The complaint says Rivera’s bail conditions are showing proof of residency and having pretrial supervision.

Summer January 27, 2013 at 12:49 PM
Thank you Nelson and to all who have commented. It's good to know there are caring people (including the police). I know the welfare system is probably overloaded, but I hope whoever gets this case will be able to help this woman in some way. I tend to believe her that a homeless shelter can be uncomfortable if one is not street smart and physically able. But to think of her curled up on a cold, hard floor as her most desirable option is heartbreaking. I'm sure if she finds a homeless shelter uncomfortable, prison will not be better.
Inga Eula January 28, 2013 at 12:43 AM
Thanks for the up date.
Inga Eula January 28, 2013 at 12:46 AM
I had worked with the homeless for a few years and it is a difficult situation all around. I have also worked with individuals in the criminal justice system and find a good set of them are homeless. First of all, we do not have enough shelters. Secondly, if you are a woman who do not have an infant or school-aged children it is hard to find shelter Finding a shelter for a single homeless woman with no children is difficult in the Lehigh Valley.
Kathleen O'Donnell January 28, 2013 at 12:58 AM
Thanks for writing this, Inga. I spoke this evening with a person from http://www.bethlehememergencysheltering.org/ and she said exactly what you have written. There are not enough support services offered to single women (versus women who have children). It sounds to me like this org. is trying, so that is a good thing. Her particular church needs more volunteers who are willing and able to sleep overnight.... which is something that not everyone can do... and other churches in the org. need people who can work for a few hours, serving dinner, or cleanup, or socializing.
Inga Eula January 28, 2013 at 01:00 AM
Thank you. I couldn't remember the website


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