Each year, Allegheny County participates in a national census, required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), of the number of people experiencing homelessness on a single night. The Point-in-Time count enumerates people experiencing homelessness in the County who are sheltered (residing in emergency shelters), unsheltered (residing in places not meant for human habitation) or participating in a short-term, supportive housing program (transitional and safe haven).

While the Point-in-Time count allows for annual comparisons, DHS also maintains a real-time dashboard that tracks the daily number of people in emergency shelters and a weekly count of people known to be experiencing unsheltered homelessness based on their engagement with street outreach teams. 

What are the key takeaways from the 2024 count?

  • On January 30, 2024, in Allegheny County, 1,026 individuals were staying in emergency shelters or experiencing unsheltered homelessness (compared to 913 in 2023).  
    • 857 were staying in emergency shelters (84% of overall count)  
    • 169 were unsheltered (16% of overall count)  
  • An increase in the number of individuals staying in emergency shelter (+99) is largely responsible for the increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness in the 2024 count. 
  • The number of individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness increased (+14) since 2023, but the percent increase of 8% is smaller than the year-over-year increases in 2022 and 2023, which were 62% and 48%, respectively. 
  • Adult-only households differ from adult-child households both demographically and in how they access and use shelter, which is why we look at these populations separately in this year’s brief. 
  • Among individuals in adult-only households (n=702): 
    • The majority (76%) were staying in shelters. 
    • Men were overrepresented in both sheltered (64%) and unsheltered (66%) locations. 
    • White adults were more likely to be unsheltered (57%) than adults of other races, but Black adults were overrepresented in shelters and in unsheltered locations, as Black individuals make up only 14% of the County’s population. 
    • The unsheltered adult population skewed slightly younger than those who were in shelter; a third of sheltered adults were 55+ (vs. 13% of those unsheltered). 
    • Veterans made up a small percentage of both the sheltered (7%) and unsheltered (5%) populations.  
    • There were 30 adult survivors of domestic violence in shelter (6%); in surveys, an additional three unsheltered individuals mentioned intimate partner violence as a factor leading to their homelessness. 
  • Among the 324 individuals in adult-child households, all of whom were staying in shelter: 
    • Women/girls were overrepresented (61%), skewed by female-headed households. 
    • Black individuals were significantly overrepresented, at nearly 70% of those in family shelters. 
    • There were 93 unique households and they tended to be younger families; most adults were under 45 and 60% of the family shelter population was under 18. 
    • Almost a quarter of adults staying in family shelter were survivors of intimate partner violence.

How are these reports used?

The data collected during the yearly Point-in-time is submitted to HUD, to create a yearly homelessness assessment report presented to congress. For more information, visit the HUD website on the Point-in-Time Count, linked here.

Allegheny County uses the yearly data as a component of its work to understand trends and needs, informing the County’s strategies to reduce homelessness and better serve those experiencing it.

Previous Reports in this series

Current information

DHS has set five goals to guide us and our partners in serving our community well. We aim for our network for human services to improve access to care, prevent overuse of coercive services, prevent harm, increase economic security and ensure quality.

What is this report about?

DHS can reach our goals more quickly if we devote time and attention to several big, bold initiatives that will make our systems and our organization work better for everyone we serve. This document outlines our key initiatives in 2024—which are in addition to our core work of running effective systems of care for people.

Current information

County human services includes programs from over 300 community-based agencies and is delivered by social workers, peers, and outreach staff working all throughout the county. These staff run out-of-school-time programs, answer hotlines, investigate reports of potential harm to children and vulnerable adults, deliver meals to seniors and run Senior Centers, make home visits to families with newborns, and do the administrative work that makes our human services run efficiently.

What is this report about?

This report highlights the 2023 accomplishments that stood out. There are many, many other achievements that people told us about. We chose the ones that made the biggest difference.

Current Information

Allegheny County DHS sends text messages to county residents for a variety of reasons, including increasing awareness of services, providing timely reminders, and gathering feedback after a service experience.  In addition, DHS uses this information to help evaluate and monitor programs it delivers.  This dashboard displays information about these outreach and engagement efforts, including the subject and purpose of these and the rates of engagement.  Data on DHS’s texting efforts are available from November 2017 to the present.

The dashboard allows users to examine DHS text messaging as a whole as well as drill down to individual text campaigns.  It allows users to understand the purpose of each campaign, the number of messages sent and the demographics of the people being contacted by each campaign.  DHS collects this information through Community Connect Labs (CCL), DHS’s texting software, and information is updated daily. Click here for a more detailed report on DHS’s texting outreach from 2018-2022.

In Allegheny County, a network of shelters provides temporary places to stay for people experiencing homelessness. Allegheny County’s emergency shelter network includes facilities that serve only adults and others that offer spaces to families with children or other dependents (family shelters).

This data brief focuses on the group of approximately 598 people in 184 households that enrolled in one of six family shelters at least once from April 2022 through March 2023. People are eligible for family shelters if they are 1) an adult with a minor child(ren) or a child over 18 years old still enrolled in high school, 2) a woman or couple without a minor child where the woman is in her third trimester of pregnancy, or 3) a couple unable to separate or parent with an adult child where one is caregiving for the other.

See the related data briefs, “People Using Adult-Only Emergency Shelters in Allegheny County” and “People Experiencing Unsheltered Homelessness in Allegheny County for descriptions of other people served in the homeless system

  • Ninety percent (N=165) of heads of household who used family shelters were female and Black individuals were over-represented – 77% of heads of households were Black, but Black individuals only make up 14% of the county. Most households (71%) consisted of an adult female head of household and one or more children. Forty-nine percent of children (N=179) were age 5 or younger at the time they entered a family shelter. An additional 35% were ages 6 through 12 and 16% were ages 13 through 17.
  • Most families had not recently used the shelter system and only stayed once. 84% of families only used shelter once during this period and only 6% had used a shelter or County housing program in the year prior to their first stay.
  • Although half of families stayed in shelter for more than two months, the largest group of families exited within a week of entering. Seventy-nine percent (N=153) of all stays resulted in households exiting to stable housing, which includes a County housing program (32%), housing with family or friends (27%), or an owned or rented property (19%). An additional 19% exited to another shelter.
  • Income is limited for heads of household using family shelters. 70% (N=129) of heads of household self-reported income from any source, with an average monthly income of $923. Additionally, DHS was able to access Pennsylvania Labor and Industry information for 171 individuals in this cohort (93%). Of these heads of household, 47% (N=81) had earnings, with an average monthly income of $1,243.
  • About a third of Medicaid-enrolled heads of household used behavioral health services, most of which were mental health outpatient services. The most common diagnosis was acute stress disorder (30% of people with a diagnosis), a short-term mental health condition that can occur within the first months after experiencing a traumatic event.
  • Asthma was the most common chronic condition for Medicaid-enrolled children using shelter and the second most common for heads of household. Asthma rates for both are twice as high as those in the general Medicaid-enrolled population in the County
  • Fifteen percent of families using these shelters had an active child welfare case in the year prior to their stay. This could indicate the need for additional support and safety nets within the child welfare system or as families transition out of it.

Emergency shelters are meant to be short-term accommodations for people experiencing a crisis. The County’s goal is to ensure that shelter stays are rare, brief and non-recurring.  The County is working with shelter staff and other housing providers to support client moves to stable housing when possible, with the goal of improving their overall outcomes and ensuring that short-term beds are available when people need them. 

Current Information

Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS) believes that appropriate sharing of client information is essential to the provision, continuity and overall quality of care provided to DHS clients. It has created a number of tools and mechanisms to facilitate this sharing, including the creation of tools for contracted providers to access information on clients they are serving and mechanisms for providers to safely and security share client information back with DHS. Read more about this here and access the tools through the below links.

Where can I access provider tools?

Links to clientivew, a tool for individual care coordination, and provider connect, a tool for to support provider decision-making, are found here. You can also access data exchange, one of the tools that providers can use to securely share information back with DHS.

How I can gain access to these tools if I don’t already have it?

If you are a contracted provider with DHS, you can request access to provider tools through DHS’s application support portal.

Learn more about the Data Warehouse

What is the Allegheny County Data Warehouse?

The Allegheny County Data Warehouse brings together and integrates client and service data from a wide variety of sources both internal and external to the County.

How was the Data Warehouse developed?

The Data Warehouse was created by consolidating publicly-funded human services data (e.g., behavioral health, child welfare, developmental supports, homelessness and aging) and, over time, expanded to include data from other sources. The Data Warehouse was made possible with support from the Human Service Integration Fund, a flexible funding pool created by a coalition of local foundations for the purpose of supporting integration and innovation within DHS.

How does the Data Warehouse support of the work of Allegheny County?

The Data Warehouse was designed primarily to improve services to clients, but also to improve the ability of workers to perform their jobs and to support management decisionmaking; it is also intended to be available as a community resource, making data and information publicly available whenever possible.

Where can I learn more?

  • This overview document describes the development of the Data Warehouse, the County’s data sharing partnerships, and how the data is utilized to support client services and decisionmaking. 

What is the DHS case competition?

Each year, the Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS) hosts a competition for local graduate students that challenges interdisciplinary teams to solve a problem in local government.

What information is available?

Yearly reports, below, describe the case topic and students’ proposed solutions. A short video explains the event.


All reports

  • 2023: Improving outcomes for people involved in an involuntary commitment
  • 2022: Innovating in the Aftershock of COVID-19: A Post-Pandemic Local Government Playbook
  • 2019: Human Service Delivery in the Gig Economy
  • 2018: Emerging Technologies to Address Human Service Problems
  • 2017: Rethinking Human Services Delivery
  • 2016: Improving Systems to Help People with Barriers Gain and Sustain Employment
  • 2015: Making Transportation Work: Creating Access and Ensuring Equity
  • 2014: Pathways to Safe and Affordable Housing for People Involved in the Human Services System
  • 2013: Building a Human Services Workforce for the 21st Century
  • 2012: Addressing Suburban Poverty and Those Affected by It
  • 2011: Reducing Stigma among Individuals with Serious Mental Illness
  • 2010: Pittsburgh Public Schools and the Pathways to the Promise
  • 2009: Building the Homewood Children’s Village
  • 2008: Greening DHS
  • 2007: The Future of DHS

In its responsibility for administering publicly-funded human services, Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS) plans for the allocation of more than $1B in areas that span behavioral health, children and families, aging, housing and homelessness, and intellectual disability and autism services.

How does DHS plan its allocation of resources?

DHS planning activities are ongoing and iterative. They include:

What is the County Human Services Plan?

The County Human Services Plan consolidates planning requirements for categorical components of the Human Services Block Grant, including Mental Health Community Base-Funded Services, Behavioral Health Services Initiative (BHSI), Intellectual Disabilities Community Base-Funded Services, Act 152 of 1988 Drug and Alcohol Services, Homeless Assistance Program Funding, and Human Services Development Funds. It is submitted annually to the PA Department of Human Services, 60 days after the agency releases its annual bulletin (usually in the summer).

What is the Needs-Based Plan and Budget?

The Needs-Based Plan and Budget articulates Allegheny County’s priorities, planned services, and resource needs for serving children and families – in particular those children and families who are involved with, or at risk of involvement with, the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. It is submitted annually to the PA Department of Human Services, Office of Children, Youth & Families (the budget narrative submission deadline is August 15th every year).

State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2024-25

Older plans:

What is the Area Agency on Aging Strategic Plan?

The Allegheny County Area Agency on Aging (AAA) is part of a nationwide aging network led by the U.S. Administration on Community Living and the Pennsylvania Department on Aging (PDA). Every four years, PDA requires each of the Commonwealth’s fifty-two (52) Area Agencies on Aging to submit an action plan for the following four years. This Four-Year Plan considers the demographic trends of the region, the changing needs of the consumers, and the current services provided by the Allegheny County AAA.

Additionally, every year the Allegheny County AAA releases Program Updates and a Budget Prospectus, as well as an Annual Report.

Community Services Needs Assessment & Strategic Plan

Allegheny County DHS is the designated community action agency for the receipt of the County’s (outside the City of Pittsburgh) Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) funds. CSBG is a federally funded block grant from the US Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children & Families, Office of Community Services that supports services aiming to alleviate the causes and conditions of poverty in under resourced communities. CSBG recipients are required to conduct a needs assessment and develop a strategic plan no less than every 5 years.  

Housing and Homelessness

Allegheny County DHS, through its Office of Community Services, is the designated Infrastructure Organization and United Funding Agency for the Allegheny County Continuum of Care (CoC) – the network of services and stakeholders engaged in making homelessness rare, brief and non-recurring. Starting in 2016, the CoC underwent a community planning process to create its strategic plan. The strategic planning process is summarized in Preventing and Ending Homelessness – Community Strategic Planning Process. Principles guiding the strategic plan can be found in the Guiding Principles: Allegheny County Plan to Prevent & End Homelessness. The working board of the CoC, the Homeless Advisory Board (HAB), voted to accept the plan on July 25, 2017.

Other plans

Access the report

The Intimate Partner Violence Reform Initiative was created in May 2022 to coordinate policy and system-level work across agencies in Allegheny County to improve a complex and fragmented system for both survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV) and those who use violence.

Stakeholders from local and federal criminal justice systems, victim service organizations, community groups, healthcare and human services are working to improve the ways in which people can access help, how our systems work together and share information, and how we can prevent the most serious harm. This report outlines the progress made in the first year of the initiative, as well as plans and priorities to continue these reform efforts.

Current Information

The Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS) conducted a study of the involuntary hospitalization program in the county. Involuntary hospitalizations occur when an individual undergoing a psychiatric episode is deemed to be a clear and present danger to themselves or others.  The specific section that governs the intake process of an individual is Section 302 of the Mental Health Procedures Act (MHPA), and for that reason the entire program is sometimes called the 302 program.

Evaluations occur in a hospital setting. Following an upheld commitment individuals can initially be detained for up to 120 hours, with the potential for extensions. The county seeks to understand the system in detail and improve outcomes among individuals who go through this process.

What is this report about?

This report describes individuals who went through the involuntary hospitalization program from 2015-2022. The analysis profiles the individuals including their characteristics such as diagnosis, their usage of mental and behavioral health services, and their outcomes post release. 

What are the takeaways?

  • Involuntary hospitalizations are common, affecting over 3,700 residents each year. The most common source of referrals occur from friend / family (43%), police officers (19%), and physicians (14%).
  • Individuals who are involuntarily hospitalized have poor outcomes upon release—within 5 years of their first evaluation, fully 20% of the population has died, a rate that is higher than that for clients exiting jail, enrolling in homeless shelters, or receiving food assistance (SNAP) as well as the rate for individuals with severe mental illness (SMI) diagnoses.
  • We find worse outcomes among 302 individuals with a pre-existing substance use disorder (SUD)— 5% of those with SUD 18–50 years of age die within two years of intake, compared to 2.5% of the 18–50-year-olds without SUD. Of those with SUD, eighty percent (60%) of the mortality rate is attributable to drug overdose.
  • We found similarly elevated risks for other adverse outcomes. Over 23% were charged with a crime within 5 years of release, and 60% used an emergency department (ED) within one year of release.
  • Statistical methods can distinguish between riskier and less risky clients with high fidelity at the moment of the 302 evaluation.
  • Those petitioned for involuntary commitment were disproportionately Black, although petition-upheld rates are similar across race. A similar picture emerges for gender—men were more likely to be petitioned, but upheld rates at the point of exam were similar for men and women.

How is this report being used?

The report serves as an initial analysis into the involuntary hospitalization process. The county is using this analysis, as well as planned subsequent ones that look at the impact of an involuntary hospitalization on a person’s outcomes, and input from clinicians and community members to develop recommendations to improve care for this vulnerable population. Ultimately the county is looking to improve both the process and the outcomes for individuals who experience an involuntary hospitalization.

Making good, informed decisions about how to allocate limited resources is an ever-evolving process. The Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS) strives to make the most equitable decisions when allocating scarce resources for individuals and families in need. Housing is a critical resource for which demand far exceeds supply; thus, DHS is dedicated to making sure that those most at need have priority for the housing services that are available. Since 2017, DHS has developed predictive risk models that utilize administrative data to assign a risk score that is used to determine the appropriate course of action. Two of these models were developed to support prioritization of housing resources.

Allegheny Housing Assessment (AHA)

In 2020, DHS launched the Allegheny Housing Assessment (AHA), a decision support tool designed to help prioritize admissions to supportive housing services for individuals or families experiencing homelessness. The AHA forms the infrastructure for DHS’s coordinated entry system for those in a housing crisis.

The tool uses administrative data from Allegheny County’s data warehouse to predict the likelihood of three types of events occurring in a person’s life if they remain unhoused over the next 12 months: 1) a mental health inpatient stay, 2) a jail booking and 3) frequent use (4 or more visits) of hospital emergency rooms.  These events serve as indicators of harm if a person remains unhoused. The AHA assigns a risk score that is used as part of the housing prioritization process; it is far more objective and unbiased than earlier assessment tools and it doesn’t require the time or trauma associated with asking sensitive questions at the time of housing crisis.

Mental Health – Allegheny Housing Assessment (MH-AHA)

After a couple of years of experience with the AHA, DHS leadership realized that a similar tool could help prioritize admissions to residential services for individuals with a diagnosis of serious and persistent mental illness. Using the AHA as a starting point, the team developed the Mental Health – Allegheny Housing Assessment (MH-AHA) and launched it in February 2023.

Similar to the AHA, the MH-AHA utilizes administrative data from Allegheny County’s data warehouse to predict the likelihood of two potential types of adverse events that may occur in an individual’s life if they do not receive adequate support for their MH condition over the next 12 months: 1) a mental health inpatient stay and 2) frequent use [4 or more visits] of hospital emergency departments. These events serve as indicators of harm and are things we would like to prevent. The MH-AHA assigns a risk score that is used as part of the prioritization process. Individuals who are not eligible or who do not receive a risk score likely to lead to a placement in the near future will be introduced to other supportive services options instead of waiting a long time on a waiting list for a placement that might not occur.

By prioritizing those most in need of MH residential services, the MH-AHA will simplify the referral process, decrease uncertainty and reduce wait times. In addition, it will help Allegheny County document unmet MH residential needs created by the gap between limited MH residential resources and the number of high-risk eligible individuals. An external impact evaluation by researchers at Stanford will document progress toward these goals.

Select from the following documents to learn more about the AHA tool:

Select from the following documents to learn more about the MH-AHA:

Current Information

In May 2022, Allegheny County assembled a taskforce of leaders to reduce intimate partner violence (IPV) through improved coordination, information sharing, training, and implementation of interventions that target both those who use violence and those who are victims or survivors of it.

Historically, the County’s understanding of IPV has been based on national data, which, though useful, fails to capture local nuances that lend greater insight into specific community needs. The objective of this report is to provide more local context to problems of IPV in Allegheny County by describing trends in demographics, human services involvement, and criminal histories among victims and perpetrators of intimate partner homicides (IPH) from January 2017 through September 2022. Importantly, the findings presented here point to a disproportionate impact on individuals who are disadvantaged not only by their gender identity, but also by systemic racial and socioeconomic inequalities. Though IPV has traditionally been framed as an issue related to gender alone, a more intersectional understanding of risk and impact can better inform strategies for effective prevention and mitigation.

Key Findings

  • There were 45 victims (43 incidents) of IPV and IPV-spillover homicides from January 2017 through September 2022.
  • The demographic trends among individuals involved in IPH are similar to those of overall homicides: victims and perpetrators are disproportionately Black, young (aged 25-34) and living in high-need areas. Black women represent the highest proportion of victims (37%, n=16), while Black men constitute the highest proportion of perpetrators (56%, n=23).
  • Unlike homicides at large, IPH victimization disproportionately impacts women: 63% of victims of IPH are women.  While IPH accounted for roughly 7% of all homicides from January 2017 through September 2022, they made up 30% of all homicides with female victims.
  • Both victims and perpetrators of IPH had high rates of involvement in human services.  74% of perpetrators had prior involvement with child welfare, publicly funded behavioral health, or homeless and housing systems.
  • 58% of victims had prior involvement with child welfare, publicly funded behavioral health, or homeless and housing systems.
  • Across all gender, race and role categories, about 53% of individuals involved in IPH – 47 of 88 – had criminal justice involvement at some point prior to the homicide incident: 63% of perpetrators (27 of 43) and 44% of victims (20 of 45). Among perpetrators with criminal justice involvement, both Black and White men had higher rates of involvement than either Black or White women.
  • Roughly 24% of all IPV perpetrators had indicators of IPV history in either the criminal courts or child protection system. This is likely an undercount of true IPV history, as data limitations, legal restrictions and underreporting make identification of non-fatal IPV in the data difficult. Among those with domestic violence related criminal cases, the majority occurred in the 18 months prior to the homicide incident.

What is Hello Baby?

New information added September 2023

Hello Baby is designed for parents of new babies in Allegheny County to strengthen families, improve children’s outcomes, and maximize child and family well-being, safety and security. Hello Baby’s tiered prevention model offers a variety of supports designed to meet families’ varied needs and interests through the child’s third year.

How was Hello Baby developed?

Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS) undertook an extensive process to develop the Hello Baby prevention strategy. In addition to drawing from decades of experience by DHS leadership, service workers and families, the process included:

  • A review of data and best practices identified in the literature
  • Dozens of individual and group meetings with local service providers, families in the community, social workers, clinical specialists and local, national and international child development experts
  • Two independent, comprehensive reviews by experts in the field

How is Hello Baby being used?

The resulting prevention program has a differentiated approach, with flexible service delivery that is based upon the understanding that each family is unique and has different and varying levels of needs and barriers to support. In addition to self- and community-referral pathways, Hello Baby also uses an innovative and predictive risk model (PRM) that uses integrated data to identify the highest need families eligible for services. Hello Baby includes a universal entry point designed to increase awareness of available support services for all new parents and improve overall engagement rates. It incorporates community level support and proven home visiting techniques, hiring culturally competent staff with lived experiences to support families with moderate to high needs and intensive engagement and service coordination to support families with the highest needs. An evaluation partner has already been selected to ensure that Hello Baby benefits from rapid feedback and learning throughout the implementation.


Related materials

For more information about Hello Baby and to access resources for new parents, visit Hello Baby online.

Recent press coverage of Hello Baby is available here.

In 2022, staff at the Urban Institute partnered with the Allegheny County DHS and the Western Pennsylvania Regional Data Center (WPRDC) to pilot synthetic data generation at the local level, to help understand the unique challenges that might face state and local governments in generating synthetic data. Each record in the synthetic dataset represents a simulated individual, or record, who received at least one service from the Allegheny County DHS in 2021. The synthetic data were designed such that records aggregated by service represent the original data. Read more here about synthetic data.

Why create a synthetic dataset?

The Department of Human Services (DHS) in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, serves one in five residents of the county every year through child welfare services, behavioral health services, aging services, developmental support services, homeless and housing supports, and family strengthening and youth supports. In the process, data are collected about these services and the population using them. These data are integrated at the individual level to allow for better care coordination, operational improvements, and program evaluation. Because of the dataset’s sensitive nature, it cannot be widely shared at an individual level, so synthetic data are used in the real dataset’s place—allowing the data to be publicly shared and helping stakeholders, including researchers, service providers, and members of the public, understand these populations better.