DHS News November 2013
Shelter, Food Available for Older Adults, Homeless During Severe Weather
The Department of Human Services is once again prepared to
assist vulnerable residents during severe winter weather. From emergency shelter to food to program
referrals, DHS offices extend assistance when weather threatens the health and
safety of people in need.
With Pittsburgh Mercy Health System’s Operation Safety Net,
DHS’s Office of Community Services will again operate the Severe Weather
Emergency Shelter at Smithfield United Church of Christ, 620 Smithfield St.,
Downtown, providing temporary overnight housing, a hot meal, social services
and medical care when temperatures drop to 25 degrees or below or the National
Weather Service predicts dangerous weather.
The shelter is open to people who ordinarily do not use
other shelters in severe weather and will operate through March 14, 2014 A
recorded message at 412.779.1329 indicates whether it is open on a given day. Operation
Safety Net offers case management at the shelter to link people to services,
benefits and permanent housing.
Additionally, the DHS Area Agency on Aging (AAA) is able to
provide emergency provisions to assist older adults on days when conditions
make it impossible to get to a grocery store or have a meal delivered.
AAA food provider, Nutrition Inc., assembles both
Shelf-Stable Meal Packs and Emergency Weather Food Boxes, which are distributed
to AAA’s Focal Point Senior Centers, Home-delivered meal providers and Care
Management and Protective Services personnel. Shelf-Stable Meals consist of a protein (can
of chili or chicken and noodles, for example); a packet of hot chocolate,
crackers, a 4-ounce can of fruit, juice and a wipe, said Marian Matik,
Administration Officer for the AAA.
Senior Centers and home-delivered meal providers have
requested 2,400 of the meals, which can be distributed to center participants
who might show up on a day when weather would seem prohibitive or given to homebound
participants in anticipation of poor weather conditions.
“The Shelf Stable Meals allow sites to be proactive and
alleviate consumer concerns”, Marian said.
Emergency Weather Boxes are more substantial and are distributed
primarily to AAA’s home-delivered meal providers. The boxes include food – examples are small
cans of fruit, cereal, bottled water, peanut butter and crackers and two
shelf-stable, microwaveable meals– but also have toilet paper, hand sanitizer,
socks with nonskid soles and a flashlight and batteries. Emergency Weather Boxes are designed to
support an older adult for two to three days in the event services are
interrupted because of an emergency. About
1,250 Snowy Weather Boxes will be assembled by Nutrition Inc. staffers for
distribution this year
Care Management and Protective Services agencies also
receive a supply of Emergency Weather Boxes to distribute as needed. Each year
the AAA receives many thank you notes from older adults expressing the sense of
comfort they feel knowing someone is looking out for them. Many say the box is an early Christmas
present, Marian said.
In addition to the emergency supplies, providers of care
management and home-delivered meal services also call consumers and conduct a
personal welfare check: ‘How are you? Do you need us to come? Do you want us to
call someone else?’
Seniors and those who have a disability needing assistance
to help with utility bills, home weatherization, food and housing or any other
need amplified by the impact of winter weather can also call The Allegheny Link, 866-730-2368. The
service assists those populations in finding and connecting with resources on a
broad variety of subjects.
The DHS/AAA also operates the Senior Line 412-350-5460 or 800-344-4319
to answer questions. For email inquiries, send to firstname.lastname@example.org. Tips
on recognizing hypothermia, preparing for winter weather and locating utility
assistance can be found on the DHS website.
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