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 DHS News November 2012

Bureau of Homeless Services

Bureau of Homeless Services staff 2The Office of Community Services (OCS) Bureau of Homeless Services strives to bring every available resource to Allegheny County’s homeless population in an effort to break the cycle of homelessness. Homeless Services is led by Rich Venezia, administrator, and consists of nine staff members who provide housing case management and various support services to individuals and families who are homeless. Additionally, the Bureau provides homeless prevention services for those who are at risk of becoming homeless. In total, Homeless Services assists more than 15,000 consumers each year.

“Our first step is always to stabilize a consumer’s housing situation by providing emergency or transitional housing,” said Rich. “We then work with the consumer to coordinate any needed support services, whether it’s for behavioral health issues, drug and alcohol addiction, domestic violence, loss of employment, or basic needs such as food and clothing. By taking these steps, we can help the consumer to eventually find a permanent home.”

Bureau of Homeless Services staff 1In addition to working one-on-one with consumers, the Bureau of Homeless Services partners with local organizations to coordinate the annual Stand Down service fair (See August DHS News article “Day of Respite” for information on the 2012 event). Also, during the winter months, the Bureau operates the Severe Weather Emergency Shelter and coordinates with several community partners to provide emergency housing, warm clothing, a hot meal, medical services and case management to the street homeless during extremely cold nights.

Rich concluded, “The Severe Weather Emergency Shelter always welcomes donations of warm winter clothing, such as socks or gloves; food coupons; or volunteers to help the vulnerable people in our community who are living under bridges, along riverbanks or in abandoned buildings. The holiday season really is a ‘window of opportunity’ for everyone to come together to offer help and hope for those in need.”

Homeless Services is located at 1 Smithfield Street on the third floor and can be reached at 412-350-4354. Those in need can speak with a staff member Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for referrals to available resources. 

Over the upcoming months, DHS News will be spotlighting the bureaus, units and teams that make up DHS. In honor of Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week (November 10-18), the Bureau of Homeless Services is one of our November spotlights. If you would like to provide information for your bureau, unit or team, please contact Nakia Beasley.

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