From the Challenges of 2020 Comes the Determination with 2021

As we look back on how the past year shaped our organization, we want to take a moment to thank you for all of your support. The pandemic has certainly been a challenge for public work, as it has exposed just how many households are one economic crisis away from needing supportive services to stay healthy and safe. But our ability to provide quality, relevant services cannot be done without your help. Click here to make a donation todayAs we look back, we want to share with you how our programming has impacted Allegheny County this fiscal year, beginning July 1, 2019 and ending on June 30, 2020.

When the pandemic hit Allegheny County, Intake became a lifeline for many families who suddenly found themselves in crisis. More local households needed help paying rent, purchasing food, and accessing health services and resources, and.April saw a 51% increase in referral appointments from the previous year.. Rental assistance was the most requested service. Altogether, Intake staff processed a total of 535 appointments during the19-20 fiscal year, and from April to June, 60% of those referrals were COVID-related

The face of food insecurity has become more widespread than ever before, and unfortunately, much more familiar. Distribution at the CHS Food Pantry now supports households who have never needed to utilize a public service before. At the height of the pandemic, one thousand families on average visited the pantry for fresh, healthy food each month. Altogether, the pantry distributed 230 tons of food during the 19-20 fiscal year, with more than half of that being fresh produce. While the pandemic forced the pantry to change its operations to keep staff and clients safe, the resilient staff quickly adapted and organized an outdoor market to give clients a similar shop-around experience they had before COVID-19. 

The first guest arrived at Safe Haven on April 6. During its first three months, the hotel provided a safe place for 83 adult individuals to isolate who were COVID-positive, exposed, or who were at a heightened risk due to age or health. The program is in partnership with the Department of Human Services (DHS), and has provided a way for CHS to be a part of the tremendous effort to control the spread of COVID-19 in Allegheny County. Safe Haven incorporates research and best practices on quarantine and isolation spaces, as well as follows guidance from the CDC and the Allegheny County Health Department. Guests are separated and isolated from each other according to their health, with COVID-positive guests on one floor, those exposed and awaiting test results on another, and individuals who are at a heightened risk stay on a third floor. While the hotel has been a challenge, it has been rewarding to oversee the program and directly support victims of the pandemic. 

Our Housing Assistance and shelter programs helped 129 households avoid homelessness and provided 33 families with a safe place to stay during the 19-20 fiscal year. Before the rush from COVID, our emergency shelter program Home 2020 opened its doors. Within its first two months of operations, the program served 30 individuals. What's unique about the program is that it provides shelter to couples. Most shelters typically separate individuals by gender, which can make recovery difficult for couples who depend on and trust only each other. Most clients who stay at Home 2020 are between the ages of 25-61. March saw the highest enrollment with 16 individuals

During 2019-2020, Project Silk expanded PrEP education and telemedicine services. Before the pandemic caused Silk to go virtual, 160 unduplicated youth visited the drop-in center and 57 HIV counseling sessions were conducted. To continue providing resources during lockdown, Silk workshops and events went virtual. However, this allowed large numbers of people to gather remotely–approximately 500 throughout the year–for sex positivity parties, Silky Thursday events, and co-hosted House-Ball Kiki functions with True T PGH. Silky Thursday drew especially large crowds, averaging 100+ viewers and 20+ participants for each event. Silk also delivered over 50 meals to food insecure members. 

In-home Services continued supporting its clients throughout the pandemic, keeping 100% of clients in their homes during the 19-20 fiscal year. It's a testament to the level of care provided by staff. 79 clients remained in their homes and 16 graduated from the program into independent living. Staff kept working with clients during the pandemic to continue providing the assistance clients need to remain safely at home. Staff increased safety measures and were encouraged to cancel visits if they or clients felt ill, but otherwise they kept going. Some clients chose to stop visitations from staff, but many depend on their help to maintain their living environment and continued staff support.

Before the pandemic, Family Foundations organized events for all family members to participate in and enjoy, like summer trips to the Pittsburgh Zoo and their Winter Wonderland event in January. And even though the pandemic restricted Family Foundations from conducting visitations, staff continued to provide quality programming to their clients with virtual visits. This increased visitation by almost 50% from last fiscal year. Between our two office locations in the Hill District and North Side, staff conducted a total of 2,565 home visit during the 19-20 fiscal year. Staff also delivered meals and child activities to help single mothers and families continue focusing on their health and development during lockdown. 24 pregnant women received prenatal care, 14 children transitioned to Head Start programs, and 41 fathers participated in Early Head Start programming.

CHS grew from the economic aftermath following the collapse of the steel industry, and we know that we'll get through the COVID-19 pandemic too. But we will not do it without your supportThe threat of eviction, homelessness, and empty cupboards are too prevalent and substantial for CHS programming to resolve alonePlease donate today. Your support will make a difference on all Allegheny County communities. With your help, a local family can stay together in safe housing, an individual can enjoy a warm meal, and we can all begin 2021 with bright promise.

As always, thank you for being a friend of CHS and have a safe, warm New Year.


Sarah Nesbella

Development Coordinator 



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