The Pittsburgh Foundation

Critical Needs Alert: Help for the Homeless

The Pittsburgh Foundation to launch third annual holiday giving campaign

PITTSBURGH, Dec. 1, 2015 – Bucking national trends, homelessness is on the rise in Pennsylvania, with more than 15,000 people experiencing housing instability in the past year. With service providers facing increased demand, and with many of them hampered by the state budget impasse, The Pittsburgh Foundation is repeating its lead role from last year’s Critical Needs campaign for the homeless, which raised nearly $1 million for service providers.

This year’s event, set to begin Dec. 8, will benefit nonprofits offering emergency shelter, temporary housing and employment assistance to homeless children, youth, adults and families.

When the Foundation’s donation portal opens at 8 a.m., gifts of $25 or more to any of the 40 participating nonprofits will be matched dollar-for-dollar until the Foundation’s match pool is depleted. This year’s $500,000 match pool — a combination of the Foundation’s funds and contributions from its donor community — is the largest in the campaign’s history. This is the third year that the Foundation has organized a Critical Needs Alert during the holiday season.

“As soon as we told our donors about the plan to repeat a Critical Needs Alert campaign to assist those facing chronic housing insecurity, contributions came pouring in,” said Yvonne Maher, the Foundation’s senior vice president for Development and Donor Services. “This year’s record-setting match pool is yet another testament to our donors’ generosity and their commitment to the Pittsburgh region.”

Among the donor funds and foundations contributing to this year’s alert are: the Linda Christen Family Charitable Fund, the Ellen B. Amshel Fund, Anonymous (5) and the Rita M. McGinley Foundation.

“There’s an increasing awareness among Pittsburghers that homelessness is more complex — and less visible — than one person sleeping under a bridge,” said Maxwell King, the Foundation’s president and CEO. “Too many individuals and families, including children and youth, are just one negative life event away from a crisis. An unexpected illness might lead to sudden unemployment and poverty. Without stable housing, it can be very, very difficult to bounce back, find work or go to school.”

Last year’s Critical Needs Alert raised $900,000 during the first 12 hours of the campaign. All contributions went to 36 nonprofits that provide shelter and other services to the homeless, those on the brink of homelessness, or those facing sudden or temporary housing crises. In 2013, the Foundation’s first Critical Needs Alert raised $617,804 to help food banks in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties meet an unprecedented rise in demand.

“The campaigns have been successful largely because of Pittsburgh’s strong sense of community,” King said. “Despite improvements in the region’s economy, lots of our neighbors are struggling with financial pressures that can quickly become emergencies. It’s inspiring to see the city come together each holiday season to declare that no one should be without stable housing. This year, with our largest-ever match pool, we’re hopeful that Pittsburgh’s generous giving history will repeat itself.”