Severe Weather Emergency Shelter
The Severe Weather Emergency Shelter (SWES) program is operated by the Allegheny County Department of Human Services, Office of Community Services, in conjunction with Pittsburgh Mercy Health System’s Operation Safety Net®.
During periods of excessively severe weather conditions, SWES provides a warm shelter to the homeless population who normally live on the streets and do not utilize one of the 12 existing emergency shelters. SWES also provides food, clothing, health care and counseling for homeless individuals.
Interested persons can call the SWES 24-hour information line at 412-779-1329 to determine if the shelter is open that evening. The message also gives the shelter's hours of operation and the location. Please note: This phone line has a pre-recorded message and is not staffed; therefore messages cannot be left at this number.
The SWES is located at:
Smithfield United Church
620 Smithfield Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Get Directions to 620 Smithfield Street
The SWES operates between 7:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m., between November 15 and March 15, when any of the following conditions exist:
- The temperature is predicted to be 25°F or less factoring in wind chill.
- Conditions of freezing rain, heavy snowfall, severe wind chill factor, etc
- During a National Weather Service declared blizzard/emergency weather situation
All guests are required to abide by established safety rules. Any individual who is deemed to be a danger to others may not be admitted by shelter staff. On-site security is provided by Allegheny County Police.
About the SWES
Operation Safety Net® – Pittsburgh Mercy Health System’s innovative, award-winning outreach program that serves people who are homeless – manages the shelter, including staffing and supplies for lodging, food, and services; medical and mental health care; and case management, clothing, and support to homeless individuals. (See SWES Partners, below)
The 11,500 square feet of space in the basement of the church contains a kitchen area, showers, restrooms and a gym floor. Because the shelter is centrally located in downtown Pittsburgh, it is easily accessible for police and fire departments, and outreach workers from other homeless shelters, to bring individuals to the private entrance, if needed, throughout the night.
Monetary donations in support of the Severe Weather Emergency Shelter are welcome. Donations may be made at www.pmhs.org or mailed to Pittsburgh Mercy Health System’s Development Office, 101 Bradford Road, Suite 320, Wexford, PA 15090. Please make checks payable to Pittsburgh Mercy Health System and specify that the gift is intended for Operation Safety Net and the Severe Weather Emergency Shelter. To make a donation by telephone, contact Connie Murray, Executive Director, Pittsburgh Mercy Health System Development, at 724-934-3537.
In-kind donations are also welcomed. Please see details on the DHS Giving and Volunteering webpage.
The SWES - A Community Effort
The SWES is made possible by funding from DHS, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Allegheny County and City of Pittsburgh Departments of Economic Development Grant, and Highmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield; in partnership with AmeriCorps and the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.
The SWES is operated by the DHS Office of Community Services, in conjunction with Operation Safety Net®; Shepherd’s Heart, a partnership of the Anglican Diocese and the Veterans Administration Health Care System; and Bethlehem Haven, which provides shelter for women at the Miryam’s facility.
Other donors to the SWES include:
- Bethlehem Haven
- Central Baptist Church
- Community Human Services
- East End Cooperative Ministries
- Eating Group (The)
- First Step Recovery
- House of Bread
- Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians
- Light of Life Rescue Mission
- Michael’s Place
- Mission Vision
- Northside Common Ministries
- Passavant Memorial Homes
- Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership
- St. John Capistran Ladies of Charity (Upper St. Clair),
- St. Paul’s Episcopal Church (Mt. Lebanon)
- Sisters of Mercy in Pittsburgh
- Springboard Kitchens
- Young Lawyers Group of Pittsburgh