Second Avenue Commons fire leaves Pittsburgh few options to shelter people experiencing homelessness

PITTSBURGH — A fire at Second Avenue Commons Tuesday sent nearly 200 residents to the streets with their belongings, and 115 of them stayed overnight at the Convention Center.

“What are we going to do now, what are we all going to do now? There really shouldn’t have been that many people in there,” said Deborah Gross, who’s a City Council member.

>>> Nearly 200 people displaced due to fire at Second Avenue Commons

Gross told Channel 11 that this fire speaks to the greater issue at hand. There is nowhere else for the homeless in the city as all the ideas from Gross and fellow Council member Anthony Coghill have received no approval.

“My frustration is it would be nice even if we didn’t have something complete, we would have something in the works for such emergencies like today,” Coghill said.

Except for one idea that came from the concepts and just got approval in the last week: The Vincentian de Marillac nursing home in Stanton Heights shut down last year.

“Fingers crossed that might be able to accommodate 50 people, so that’s a relief, but that still leaves 50 or more who’ve got to go somewhere,” Gross said.

Both council members said the 4th and 5th floors of Second Avenue Commons will be condemned and the hope is to clean up the rest to get people back inside, but it’s unclear when.

“Beyond that we aren’t quite sure as to what we will do with the ones who will be displaced so it is still under evaluation,” Coghill said.

Channel 11 did ask the Mayor’s Office for an update on its long-term homeless housing plan but did not hear back.

Allegheny County is working with other shelters to get people inside and will be putting out a plan for if the public wants to help soon.

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