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Winter Shelter to Open Every Night  

For Individuals Who Are Experiencing Homelessness

Shelter to help even more people in need by opening

November 15, 2017 through March 15, 2018, 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., regardless of weather

and March 16 through March 31, 2018, 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., during extreme weather

 

 

– Allegheny County Department of Human Services and Pittsburgh Mercy’s Operation Safety Net® are pleased to announce that the Winter Shelter for individuals who are experiencing homelessness will open every night regardless of the weather. When the Winter Shelter opens at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, November 15, 2017, it will remain open from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. every night through March 15, 2018. In addition, between March 16 and March 31, 2018, the Winter Shelter will open on nights of extreme weather, 25°F or below, when the wind chill factor is below 15°F, or when there is a 50 percent or greater chance of freezing precipitation.

 

 

 

The men’s Winter Shelter will again be located at the Smithfield United Church of Christ at 620 Smithfield Street, Downtown. The women’s Winter Shelter will be at a separate location in Uptown Pittsburgh this year. The location of the women’s shelter is made known only to persons served and health and human service providers.

 

“Between November 15, 2016 and March 31, 2017, the Winter Shelter opened 135 nights,” stated Brian Matous, Winter Shelter team leader for Pittsburgh Mercy’s Operation Safety Net, an innovative, award-winning Pittsburgh Mercy outreach program to people who are experiencing homelessness. “Last winter, we assisted more than 1,000 individuals at the shelter. The average nightly census was 92 men and 50 women.”

 

According to Matous, “Individuals who present to the Winter Shelter are usually those who are often in the most need of the following services: showers, hot meals, laundry services, and a warm place to sleep; homeless diversion; housing ready services (for those experiencing chronic homelessness); service coordination and case management services; basic medical care with options to begin primary care; veterans services; and benefits coordination. We work in tandem with the Allegheny Link

 

 

“Many of the individuals we serve at the shelter have multiple, complex needs.” Matous said. “Our main goal, besides being a place for folks experiencing homelessness to get in and out of the elements, is to get a full understanding of why someone is struggling. If we uncover that someone is coming to us because they do not have power, heat, or water, then we’d rather divert someone from entering into a homeless status. We may not have the financial means to help everyone, which is why we work in conjunction with coordinated intake through the Allegheny Link, and several other agencies and providers in the county. We’re a judgment-free service that wants to focus mainly on helping individuals grow out of their homeless struggles. Being homeless is not necessarily an indication that someone just doesn’t have money to be housed. It’s a complex state of being that usually only happens when several support systems and personal health factors have broken down. We want our shelter to be the place that someone can take that first step at becoming their better, and eventually, their best selves.” 

 

Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank is seeking member agencies to donate time, food, and/or resources to the Winter Shelter. Volunteers are needed to prepare hearty meals for up to 150 individuals. Meals must be hot and must consist of a starch, a vegetable, and a protein. Member agencies who volunteer to prepare meals for the Winter Shelter may order food from the Food Bank’s inventory at no cost. Member agencies who are interested in volunteering to prepare meals are asked to contact their agency network coordinator for additional details and to schedule dates that are convenient to their organization.

 

Organizations, corporations, and individuals who do not have the capacity to prepare meals are encouraged to consider donating money toward the cost – or to cover the cost – of purchasing a balanced, hot meal for 150 individuals. Monetary donations may be made via Pittsburgh Mercy’s website,www.pittsburghmercy.org; mailed to Pittsburgh Mercy, Development Office, 101 Bradford Rd., Wexford, PA 15090; or by contacting Connie Murray, director of Development at Pittsburgh Mercy, atCMurray@pittsburghmercy.org or 724-934-3537. Do not mail cash. Please designate the gift for the Winter Shelter.

 

In-kind donations of new hats, scarves, gloves, socks, boots, winter coats, toiletries, and personal hygiene items for distribution to participants at the Winter Shelter are also greatly appreciated. For logistical reasons, the Winter Shelter accepts donations only by appointment. To schedule an appointment, please email operationsafetynet@pittsburghmercy.org or call 412-232-5739. Please place “Winter Shelter In-Kind Donation” in the subject heading line. Messages are returned within 24-48 business hours.

 

If you would like to volunteer your time or offer your services, please contact Brian Matous at 412-689-6565.

 

Funding for the Winter Shelter is made possible by the Allegheny County Department of Human Services, Pittsburgh Mercy’s Operation Safety Net, an Allegheny County Economic Development Emergency Solutions Grant, Trinity Health, and Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield.

 

Winter Shelter organizers also acknowledge the contributions of Smithfield United Church of Christ, the

Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, Catholic Men’s Fellowship, Shepherd’s Heart Fellowship, and countless volunteers, providers, funders, and donors without whose collaboration and support the shelter would not be possible.

 

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