As many as 300 people are expected to gather in Schenley Plaza on Friday and Saturday to "sleep-in for the homeless." The event begins by recognizing some of the individuals and groups that have made a positive impact in the fight against homelessness in the last year, and then participants will sleep outdoors.
"What we do is sleep outside and brave the elements and try to learn a little bit more about what it's like to be a homeless person who does not have the four walls around them to keep them safe," said Diane McMahon, who works in development for the Oakland-based Community Human Services Corporation (CHS).
This is the fourth year the organization has held the event. The goal is to raise awareness of what CHS calls the "forgotten population."
Allegheny County is home to approximately 2,500 homeless men and women, according to the annual census conducted by the Department of Human Services. That does not include those who have temporarily moved in with friends or relatives, those who are sleeping in cars, or those who are in hotels or motels.
"People are turned away dramatically. There is just not enough space, there is not enough shelter beds available to get folks off the street," she McMahon.