Tyrone Burrell is an ex-offender and he’s looking for a home—but not for himself.
Though he has experienced homelessness, this isn’t about him. It’s about using what he’s learned to get others off the street and onto their feet.
“I’m looking to house between 150-200 people,” he said as he rode a bus to Wilkinsburg to look at a former school. “My goal is to help get these people into a residence so they can return to productive lives. We all have gifts and talents; they’ve just kept theirs under the bridge for too long.”
Though he is very early in the process—he is waiting for the Internal Revenue Service to grant his Spiritual Devotional Outreach Recovery Program tax-exempt status as a charitable entity—that isn’t stopping him from making contacts with people on the street and those who can help get them off the street.
“I’ve been working with William Boyd in Allegheny County Treasurer John Weinstein’s office and he’s helping me search out possible locations,” he said. “Most of the folks on the street don’t have any family. Some are willing to participate—but I tell them they can’t just come and go as they please, and not change. They have to want to help themselves.”
According to Allegheny County’s 2016 “point-in-time” survey of homeless shelters, there are 1,156 homeless people in Pittsburgh. The number of “unsheltered” homeless—those who shun shelters for doorways, bridge abutments, etc. is 48.