PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The issue of downtown homelessness has been a lightening rod of controversy, pitting Mayor Peduto against those who say the city has not done enough to address the problem and get people off the street.
But over the past two months, several of the region’s non-profits and corporations have huddled with city and county government to come up with a plan. And today, the mayor confirmed to KDKA’s Andy Sheehan that a freestanding homeless shelter will be built on the fringe of downtown as the cornerstone of that plan to help the homeless.
Andy Sheehan: Is this going to happen, mayor?
Mayor Peduto: 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.
The mayor says downtown become a magnet for people made homeless by unemployment, addiction or mental illness and says the shelter will serve the dual purpose of getting people off the streets and provide the counseling and assistance to keep them off.
He says it will be between 80 and 100 beds, will cost several million dollars and will likely be built on city-owned land near the county jail.
“Somewhere in that area that is within walking distance of the services downtown. 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,” he said.
The city will provide the land and the Allegheny Conference, corporations such as PNC Bank and non-profits like UPMC, will supply the funds and the services.
It’s not clear how soon a plan to build the shelter will come together, but the group issued this statement to KDKA:
“We are in early discussions regarding an unprecedented collaboration to address serious and complicated issues related to homelessness in our back yard. It is premature, at this time, to discuss any details, but we are hopeful about the possibilities that this alliance presents.”