City announces new homeless shelter project downtown


Photo by Alexis Wary

The Allegheny County Jail located on Second Avenue in Downtown Pittsburgh. The future homeless shelter will be built on city-owned land near the jail.

Written By Luke Mongelli, Co-News Editor

The city of Pittsburgh has officially announced a project to build a homeless shelter for the less fortunate citizens in and around the downtown area.

Mayor Bill Peduto announced that the local corporate and non-profit community has come together to fund an aid to the ever growing homeless crisis that has grown in downtown Pittsburgh over the past years.

“It’s going to happen, and it’s going to be a commitment led by our corporate community, our large non-profits with city and the county working together,” Peduto said in an interview with KDKA. “What we need is a place, not only where they can sleep at night, but where they can get services around the clock.”

The shelter will not only allow housing for the homeless and unemployed, it will also facilitate the needs for others that are struggling with a variety of issues.

“I would say that to understand that we want to build a downtown for everyone, and that means those who need help, those with mental health issues, those that are fighting addiction, those that are homeless,” Peduto said in an interview with Pittsburgh Action News 4. “That’s where they get their services. That’s where they get their meal. That’s where they get the help that they need and we should be sharing it with all of them.”

The shelter will be located on city owned land, on second avenue near the Allegheny County Jail, and the project logistics are still being worked out by the corporations and nonprofits bringing this shelter to the downtown area.

“Somewhere in that area that is within walking distance of the services downtown,” Peduto said. “We know what is needed is an all-season, low barrier, meaning anyone can enter that does more than just gives people a place to sleep put gives them the opportunity to go into a recovery program as well.”

Mayor Peduto believes that the shelter will help multiple facets in the community.

“The city is seeing an economic boom, more visitors, and a drop in crime,” Peduto said. “It is vital that we take care of our neighbors in need.”

The city stated that they are unsure of an exact timeline for the shelter, but plan to break ground sometime in 2020.

“This is a great idea, and will be very beneficial,” said Lucas Murphy, a freshman graphic design major.  “I hope to see a decrease in the number of homeless, financially unstable, and those with addiction, living on the streets,” Murphy said. “It is a huge step in the right direction, and I think this will benefit the community by helping everyone, starting with the extremely underprivileged.”

Although it may seem like an idea that has little negatives attached to it, there are some citizens that are more weary than others about the new shelter plans.

“I feel that it is a good idea, but the city needs to utilize this project right, in order to acclimate the less fortunate back into society,” said Josh Langford, a 37 year old lifelong resident of Pittsburgh, who frequents the downtown area with his family many times a year. “I don’t want this to be a temporary fix, I want the shelter to be a stepping stone for these less fortunate people.”

Langford also believes this could bring on many positives not only for the people utilizing the shelter, but for the city as a whole.

“This can be the start to the city becoming a cleaner place, and if these less fortunate people are getting jobs, then in turn the economy of Pittsburgh could see a big boost in the coming years,” Langford said.

The shelter is estimated to be able to hold 80 to 100 beds in the facility.

“Given the size of our city, I think 80 to 100 beds is a good start, if the shelter space is used appropriately, size shouldn’t be a pressing issue.

In addition to the immediate downtown area, this new addition could have lasting effects on the surrounding community

“This could help the homeless problem in Oakland,” said Ryan Estatico, an electrical engineering major at the University of Pittsburgh. “The people begging on Forbes could leave the college town at least at night making it safer for the students.”

Despite these possible good doings, Estatico still sees some work to be done.

“I am sure this will not achieve the ultimate goal of a city for everyone, because there is always unaccounted problems that come up with a large group of homeless people and recovering addicts,” Estatico said. “The homeless population are probably not used to living near 80-100 others and I am sure aggression and problems will occur. Medical services should be provided to help everyone, however I would hate for this project to turn into a hospice and not the temporary shelter it’s meant to be.”