Allegheny County

Smithfield Shelter to close by end of June, Allegheny County leaders working to address need

PITTSBURGH — Allegheny County leaders will close a seasonal shelter in Downtown Pittsburgh by the end of June.

The shelter at the Smithfield United Church of Christ usually only operates during the winter months because it has no central cooling system.

County leaders say they are working to address a growing need for shelters in preparation for the closure.

Leaders are working to expand capacity at existing shelters, identify new locations and utilize overflow where appropriate.

According to a news release, the county has created more shelter options in the last year and has also seen an increase in homelessness.

Yuriy Beckham owns a business downtown and is disturbed by what he says he sees each day.

“Urination, needles, every day we are dealing with this. Every single day,” Yuriy Beckham told Channel 11.

But his hope is that they won’t be dealing with it much longer.

The County Department of Human Services announced the shelter will be closed by the end of June, after staying open several months longer than it usually does each year.

They normally close their doors in March – after the winter months.

“We just saw the need. And we wanted to make sure we had planned options for people before we just closed it ceremoniously before the end of the winter,” Erin Dalton told Channel 11

EDalton is the Director of Allegheny County’s Department of Human Services and says up to 125 people stay in the shelter each night.

Where will all of those people go? Dalton says there are plans for more shelters before Smithfield is closed.

“We have space within our existing continuum and a number of shelters willing to open some overflow capacity, and we are looking at new spots so we have enough safe, hospitable, and good places for people to shelter,” she said.

Dalton hasn’t said if the future shelters will be downtown. But if you ask people who live and work there, they hope the shelters are gone for good.

“We are losing business because customers are afraid to come into the city right now. I think there should be a facility, I just don’t think it should be in the downtown Pittsburgh location,” business owner Carl Herrmann said.

11 News will be checking in with the county early next week to find out the exact plans for the shelters.

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