Online Application for Pittsburgh-Area Homeless Wins Award

PITTSBURGH, PA (April 26, 2018), a collaborative effort of several local service agencies recently taken over by the City of Pittsburgh, has been honored by the Allegheny County Children Roundtable with the "Champion for Children" award. is an online application that directs youth and adults experiencing homelessness, or anyone in need, to free, low-barrier services in the City of Pittsburgh and greater Allegheny County. Designed for quick-and-easy use on your cell phone, BigBurgh has become an invaluable resource for police, teachers, clergy, medical and social services professionals, parents, and ordinary citizens alike. Most importantly, it’s for the homeless themselves – more than 60% of homeless youth have smartphones, and homeless adults frequently access computers at libraries and other centers. 

BigBurgh began when Joe Lagana, Founder of the Homeless Children’s Education Fund, was speaking to Maurita Bryant, then Assistant Chief of the Pittsburgh Police, about the difficulty connecting individuals experiencing homelessness, especially youth, to resources. Joe then turned to Informing Design, a local firm specializing in untangling complex government systems, to answer the question, “could there be an app for that?” After 18 months of evaluation, and beta-testing with our Pittsburgh Police bicycle patrol officers, was created. 

After almost two years of piloting, testing, and growth, BigBurgh was adopted by the City of Pittsburgh in January of this year, and will continue to be used by city first responders, and will also continue expansion to all of Allegheny County. 

BigBurgh lists essential everyday needs, such as meals, shelter, clinics, showers and laundry, clothing and diapers, and expert help with financial, legal and employment matters, as well as essential emergency hotlines. List are shown based on the user’s location, and services are described in concise, jargon-free terms.  

“BigBurgh is a shining example of how a public-private partnership can work, all parties involved contributed in their area of expertise, and the result is a highly functional online resource that is easy and intuitive for the end user to navigate,” said BigBurgh Manager Sally Stadelman of the city's Public Safety Department. 

With the Office of Innovation and Performance providing funding to sustain the technology, Public Safety has been able to utilize and promote its adoption to improve communication between outreach and the bureaus while ensuring that people experiencing homelessness have access to free resources.    

 "BigBurgh is revolutionizing how we deliver services to our most vulnerable community members," said Assistant Chief Anna Kudrav. "We have a program here in Pittsburgh that is unlike anything anywhere else."   

BigBurgh’s great successes could not have been accomplished without the continued collaboration and support of its advisory council members: Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, The Allegheny County Department of Human Services Bureau of Homeless Services, United Way/PA 2-1-1 Southwest, Pittsburgh Mercy’s Operation Safety Net, The Pittsburgh Child Guidance Foundation, the Homeless Children’s Education Fund, and the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police.  

"It's been shown time and again that one of the things that makes Pittsburgh special is the way many different partners can come together to make lives better for our residents, and especially those who are most in need," Mayor William Peduto said. 

To qualify as a service to be listed on BigBurgh, services must be free, with a minimum of documentation. If you would like to suggest a potential listing on BigBurgh, or would like a BigBurgh presentation at your organization, please contact ( or call 412-255-2239. 




Keyva Clark
Communication Analyst
Mayor's Office


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