Member Spotlight: Community Human Services

Unifying the voice of nonprofits to leverage their power

CHS Pantry

Community Human Services

Many know Community Human Services, or CHS, as a housing and homelessness service organization. Or, they know CHS as an Oakland-based community center and settlement house, rooted in the agency’s beginning in the 1970s. While both of those are true, there is much more to the agency than just those programs.

Everything CHS does comes back to four key priorities: making sure every person has a safe place to live, creating connections to a wide range of community resources, providing opportunities to build relationships and social capital, and ensuring access to quality food. In the last year, CHS served more than 7,200 people across all of Allegheny County.

The agency has so many diverse service offerings so that it can provide a holistic response to families in housing, financial, or health crises. “One of our highest priorities is streamlining access to multiple services,” said Jon Hoffmann, the agency’s Chief Operating Officer. “If you’re facing eviction, you’ll have a better outcome if you also can get help with your finances, time with a service coordinator, a check in with a nurse, or some food assistance.”

One of those most critical resources is the agency’s food pantry, which is a member of the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. The pantry has rapidly grown over the last several years, and it now serves more than 1,400 people each month and distributes more fresh produce than any other pantry in the County.

While CHS is incredibly fortunate to have the resources and support from funders and partners to grow to make that possible, that increasing demand is also an unfortunate commentary on the state of our community. “Folks are struggling: from finding a decent job to affording basic necessities like a safe place to live and healthy food,” Hoffmann said. “Without effective advocacy to drive systemic change, it’s hard for agencies to keep pace with that kind of demand.”

That’s where partners like the Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership and The Forbes Funds really shine for the organization. “Membership within GPNP is an opportunity to engage in advocacy at a broader level with a much bigger impact. The team at GPNP brings so much knowledge and really has the pulse on current issues that affect both human services and the nonprofit sector as a whole,” said Hoffmann. “Being a part of this network enables us to be even more effective than we could be alone.”