Funding solution provides permanent housing for homeless

Arizona government entities have paired with partners to provide permanent housing for homeless individuals. (Special to the Independent/ArielleJay—file photo)

State and county officials will redirect funds previously designated toward the temporary overflow shelter to offer permanent housing solutions to the homeless in Phoenix.

For more than two years, temporary sleeping mats have been available for the homeless population on the Human Services Campus at 11th Avenue and West Jackson, according to a press release on government entities uniting with nonprofit partners to provide homeless individuals permanent housing.

“Our commitment is to serve those who are most vulnerable,” said Maricopa County Human Services Director Bruce Liggett in a prepared statement. “Public funds need to be directed toward permanent solutions. There is a need for more shelter beds with fewer demands, but the overflow was always a temporary solution. The real solution is permanent housing with support services. That’s where the funding is making the most impact.”

The overflow shelter was operated on campus by the Lodestar Day Resource Center before being transferred to St. Vincent de Paul. The main campus shelter operated by the Central Arizona Shelter Services accommodates more than 400 nightly, the release noted.

An average of 240 people are “bedding down on the floor of the overflow shelter” at the St. Vincent de Paul dining room on any given night, the release said, adding that the St. Vincent de Paul overflow shelter will be phased out by the end of September 2018.

The shelter began operating at reduced levels in April as people are provided alternative arrangements: diversion, shelter, rapid rehousing and permanent supportive housing, the release stated.

However, government and non-profit partners recognize that summer months are especially difficult for the homeless population, so St. Vincent de Paul will continue to provide space—through at least September—for hundreds of people to get relief from the weather at the Human Services Campus, detailed the release.

Between 7:30 p.m. – 5 a.m., St. Vincent de Paul will continue its ongoing efforts if an “excessive heat warning” is issued or the chance of rain is 50 percent or more, the release noted.

“Hundreds of homeless individuals and families have been placed in permanent housing in the past three years, and this redirection of funding will quickly push that number into the thousands,” said Arizona Department of Economic Security Director Michael Trailor in a prepared statement. “We are seeing an increase in the number of unsheltered homeless. The solution is not a mat on a cafeteria floor. The solution has to be moving these people into permanent housing.”

By the end of September, Maricopa County, the Arizona Department of Economic Security, the Arizona Department of Housing, and Valley of the Sun United Way will have spent an estimated $3.5 million to support these temporary accommodations comprised of security, staffing costs, and increased utility expenses.

Integrating homeless people in rapid rehousing and permanent supportive housing, will involve the government agencies along with nonprofit partners identifying homeless individuals; finding housing and matching them with a caseworker; helping get needed resources to successfully pay housing expenses on their own.

Resources often include medical, behavioral, budgeting, job training and placement. Redirected funds toward this mission allows partners to continue assisting on a larger scale by reintegrating homeless people to have productive lives, benefiting them and the community, the release said.

“The State has committed more than $30 million to address homelessness in Phoenix in the past 20 months alone by assisting with sheltering, rehousing assistance, and adding additional supportive housing units in the city,” said Carol Ditmore, director of the Arizona Department of Housing, in a prepared statement. “The State is dedicated to increasing the supply of permanent housing options for individuals who are homeless throughout the state.”

The Queen Creek Independent is mailed each month to 24,000 homes.

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