5 Ways To Make an Impact on Winter Housing Crises

The weather outside is beyond uncomfortable; for people without stable housing it could be deadly. We can all play a role in helping to make sure that all of our neighbors stay safe and well during potentially lethal winter weather. Here are 5 things you could do today if you know of someone who needs help:

1. Connect People to Community Resource Hubs
- Allegheny Link is the county's centralized Intake system for housing assistance for people experiencing or navigating an impeding housing crisis. All assistance and program referrals must go through the Allegheny Link before people can be assisted by agencies like CHS. Call Allegheny Link at 866-730-2368 when crisis arises to get help as soon as possible.
- PA 2-1-1 Southwest is a part of the United Way's national call center system to provide streamlined connections to social services, and can provide referrals to a variety of needs that someone may have. People can access help by dialing 2-1-1, or chatting live with a person through the 2-1-1 website. 
- Swigle and BigBurgh are apps designed to help people experiencing homelessness to quickly get connected to service needs. Swigle provides a question/answer forum where people seeking assistance can ask for help solving their problem and be answered by real service providers. BigBurgh matches people with service providers based on their expressed issues and identities.

2. Spread Awareness About Emergency Weather Services
- SWES, the Severe Weather Shelters in Pittsburgh, are open every night until March 15th so everyone can have a safe place to stay all Winter. Male-identifying folks can present to 620 Smithfield Street (downtown). Female-identifying folks can call 412-498-0908 to receive the location of the women's shelter, which is a safe haven. You can help by making sure people know about these options and making sure they get there. 
- During daytime hours, there are drop-in centers across the county where people can be inside to stay warm. See list attached below for locations and hours.

3. Provide People with the Supplies They Need to Stay Safe and Healthy
We are collecting items for our Street Outreach team through our Amazon Wish List, and ask that you consider making these purchases to be shipped directly to our main office. We are also accepting donations of gently-used winter gear, coats, and boots, and donations of new socks and underwear (in all sizes). If you have something you would like to donate, please contact Brooke Sciullo at BSciullo@chscorp.org

4. Make a Gift to Agencies Serving People Who Experience Homelessness
We could not have built our tradition of over 40 years of providing homeless services in Allegheny County without the consistent and adequate funding needed to do so. Consider making a gift or becoming a recurring donor to support the work that we do. We believe every person should have a safe place to call home, and hope that you do too.

5. Hold Your Elected Officials Accountable
Advocacy is one of our core values here at CHS, and we believe that it is critical in order to ensure equitable life for all. Decisions are made every day at the local, state, and national level that impact housing. Pay attention to policy that could affect your neighbors, and be in contact with your representatives about the importance of prioritizing homeless services. Community is all of us, and we must remain proximate to shift the status quo so that everyone can be safe, healthy, and thriving as a valued member of their community.

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