Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Allegheny County’s Homeless Advisory Board Vote to Eliminate Transitional Housing in Relation to HEARTH

HEARTH will continue to advocate for our families as they work toward independence.

How does HEARTH help end homelessness?

Homelessness is about poverty, not just putting a roof over someone’s head. HEARTH’s Transitional Housing Program is designed to lift families out of poverty through education and employment, stopping the generational cycle of homelessness. In doing so, it reduces and eliminates the need for these families to rely on public funding to survive. Our program is a great investment because we spend federal tax dollars to reduce our client’s reliance on public support in the future.

What is occurring with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and their funding for HEARTH?

Allegheny County’s Homeless Advisory Board (HAB) administers HUD federal funds to local agency programs. In May, they voted to eliminate federal funding for all transitional housing programs in Allegheny County beginning in 2017. This means HEARTH will no longer be eligible to receive federal funds through HAB, as of October 1, 2017. This decision affects $3.8 million in funding for 20 programs (including HEARTH’s HOMES Transitional Housing Program), and potentially displaces 80 families (who number about 300 people), and 176 individuals.

HEARTH’s Board of Directors, volunteers and staff are committed to staying true to our mission to provide transitional housing to families in need rather than change our mission in order to secure government funding.

Do we know why this is happening?

From what we can discern, we believe this is being driven by a desire to reduce the reportable population of homeless people because people in transitional housing are counted as “homeless.”  By increasing funding so these permanent supportive housing programs can add beds, HAB can reduce the reportable homeless population.   So investing in HEARTH reduces the need for long-term public support for these families.  However, going forward, these rapid re-housing and permanent housing programs will be the sole beneficiaries of government funding when HAB eliminates funding for transitional housing.

What does the impact of this funding loss mean for HEARTH and the families it serves?

While there will be no immediate threat to HEARTH and the families we serve, the federal HUD funds that HEARTH receives total $420,000 or 40% our annual budget. We need your help now to prepare for this change so HEARTH can continue to provide the families with the support and services they need, including housing.

What is HEARTH doing in order to survive this funding loss?

The remainder of HEARTH’s annual budgets comes from private donors like you. We are reaching out to private donors and foundations now and educating them about this situation. We will also continue to advocate for transitional housing on a federal level. By taking a proactive approach and preparing for this funding loss now, HEARTH is confident that with extra help from the community, HEARTH and its mission will prosper.

If 20 programs are affected by this decision, why is HEARTH the one in the news?

HEARTH will always advocate on behalf of our clients and the successful program that we have built.  We are taking on the difficult effort of challenging the decisions of the governing agencies, because we are committed to our mission of providing transitional housing to families fleeing domestic violence and experiencing homelessness. By providing a range of supportive services and adequately housing these families, HEARTH enables them to become independent and self-sufficient.  This process also helps end the cycles of abuse, poverty and government dependence.

We know our program works due to our record of success. Families continue to leave with permanent housing and full time employment because while the Program Participants are here, they earn a certification or degree that leads them to good paying jobs.

HEARTH has also partnered with Reed Smith LLP, which is tirelessly working to protect our rights and Congressman Keith Rothfus who is advocating for HEARTH and similar programs on a federal level.

What can I do to help?

  • Tell someone: be an ambassador and share HEARTH’s story with others
  • Share contacts: help HEARTH connect with those you may know at foundations, new donors or potential fundraising committee volunteers in the community, contact Cherie Hugh at cahugh@hearth-bp.org
  • Increase your involvement: learn how by contacting Victoria Gill at vlgill@hearth-bp.org
  • Lend your financial support: of course we’ll gladly accept a financial contribution to HEARTH. Or if you already donate, increase your giving level. To donate:
  1. Use the “donate now” button at the bottom of each page on this website
  2. Purchase tickets to our events
  3. Mail a check to: PO Box 318, Glenshaw, PA 15116
  4. Contact our Executive Director, Judy Eakin at jeeakin@hearth-bp.org to find out more about how you can help