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A low-barrier shelter is opening this month in Downtown Pittsburgh

At max-capacity, Second Avenue Commons will be able to shelter nearly 180 people.
Kiley Koscinski
90.5 WESA news
At max-capacity, Second Avenue Commons will be able to shelter nearly 180 people.

On today’s episode of The Confluence:

Low-barrier homeless shelter in Allegheny County, set to open mid-October, will offer services to both residents and walk-ins
(0:00 - 11:34)

The first low-barrier homeless shelter in Allegheny County is set to open in Downtown Pittsburgh in mid-October.

“At the end of the day, shelter should be a transition. Shelter is not necessarily a destination,” says Tony Beltran, president and CEO of Pittsburgh Mercy. “The shelter is to get people ready to move towards that permanent location. If there were no shelters and people were in permanent support, that would be a success.”

Providing 95 beds year-round and up to 40 additional beds in the winter, this facility will assist any adult who needs housing, including people in relationships, people who own a pet or people who are using drugs.

“Our target population is definitely people who are experiencing homelessness, but not they do not necessarily need to be staying at the shelter or one of the SRO rooms, ”says Dr.Anita Leon-Jhong, the medical director of the center housed in this facility.

Dr. Leon-Jhong explains clinic staff will use a trauma-informed care approach with patients, because they may have had adverse experiences with medical professionals in the past.

Children of incarcerated parents are more likely to suffer from instability and experience homelessness
(11:40 - 17:20)

The Allegheny County Controller's Office recently announced an audit of county programs serving children with incarcerated parents. Research shows that children who have an incarcerated parent experience instability in their home and an increased risk of homelessness.

Amachi Pittsburgh is a local nonprofit that works with those impacted by the criminal justice system.

“There's extensive data through the adverse childhood experiences study that shows that health, physical and mental health outcomes later in life are exacerbated by the incarceration of a parent during childhood,” says Anna Hollis, executive director of the organization. “That data really tells us that we need to be more proactive in providing support as early as possible.”

According to the Department of Corrections, there are currently 81,096 children who have a parent incarcerated in a Pennsylvania state prison.

John Fetterman’s has a mixed record on addressing crime while mayor of Braddock 
(17:39 - 22:30)

Some experts say control of the U.S. Senate could come down to the race to fill the open seat in Pennsylvania. Most recently, the airways have been dominated by commercials about which candidate can be trusted on crime.

According to 90.5 WESA’s Oliver Morrison, one of the biggest disputes is about Democrat John Fetterman’s record fighting crime in the small Pittsburgh suburb of Braddock.

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in Monday to Thursday at 9 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts. 

Corrected: October 5, 2022 at 12:51 PM EDT
A previous version of this story said the shelter will provide 135 additional beds this winter; it has been corrected to say the shelter will provide up to 40 additional beds in the winter.
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