Connecting people to housing and jobs; watching out for families, youth, and the most vulnerable on our streets; helping people find stability and success upon release from jail. These are all part of a regional approach that is getting strong support and new funding from the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. This summer, the Board approved $2 million in federal and county dollars to fund proven programs and initiatives helping to reduce homelessness, unemployment, and recidivism.
“We realize the need for regional solutions to end homelessness, and our focus continues to be on making our dollars stretch further so we can have a real impact. By working with cities and towns that are also making sizable investments, we provide greater support for those who need it,” said Chairman Bill Gates, District 3. “Together, we’re creating new workforce development programs; providing additional support for those coming out of the justice system; and increasing diversion and shelter options across the region to address this complex and growing issue.”
Major initiatives funded include:
- Hand in Hand, a County collaboration that rapidly connects justice-involved individuals experiencing homelessness with supportive housing, physical/mental health, and navigation services while in jail, and coordination of community services upon release
- Diversion strategies, with the Human Services Campus Coordinated Entry, to quickly resolve homelessness by helping individuals throughout Maricopa County experiencing a housing crisis to identify immediate alternate housing that is safe and appropriate
- A new Workforce Development Coordinator Position to assist the unique needs of recently housed individuals who must obtain and maintain employment to keep from becoming homeless again
- Expanded partnerships with the cities of Avondale and Surprise to increase shelter options for the growing population of unsheltered individuals and families
“Getting people off the streets and connecting them with affordable housing and jobs is an important piece of building safe, healthy communities,” said Vice Chairman Clint Hickman, District 4. “I’m especially glad to see the County investing resources and building partnerships to get people housed in the West Valley, with agreements like those with Avondale and Surprise.”
At today’s meeting, the Board of Supervisors took another important step, approving an East Valley resolution authorizing data sharing and collaboration on the issue of homelessness between Maricopa County; the cities of Apache Junction, Chandler, Mesa, Scottsdale, and Tempe; the Town of Gilbert; and the Maricopa Regional Continuum of Care Governing Board.
“Homelessness is not just a downtown Phoenix issue; we see its presence and impact in communities in the East Valley as well,” said Supervisor Jack Sellers, District 1. “We realize our role as a county is one of leadership. We cannot solve the homelessness challenge on our own, but we can be at the table, helping to drive the conversation, and funding regional solutions as we can.”
“Making a difference in the lives of individuals experiencing homelessness—and on homelessness in general—only happens when we work together,” said Supervisor Steve Chucri, District 2. “This funding involves trusted partners using proven approaches that lead to real, lasting solutions. It’s good for our economy, it’s good for our security, and above all, it is the decent thing to do.”
The fiscal year 2020 budget includes money to support housing and shelter partnerships that provide rapid rehousing, essential services, and emergency shelter to those experiencing homelessness.
- Native American Connections will provide housing, shelter, and navigation services for youth
- Community Bridges will provide navigation services to justice-involved homeless individuals and rapid rehousing to individuals in both the East and West Valley
- AZCEND will provide rapid rehousing to individuals in the East Valley
- A New Leaf will provide shelter to individuals and families in the East and West Valley
- Lutheran Social Services will provide shelter services in the East and West Valley
- Central Arizona Shelter Services (CASS) will provide shelter to single adults at the Human Services Campus
“Whether that’s getting a roof over someone’s head so they have some stability, helping them with the transition out of jail, or connecting them with a job that might help them get off the streets, this is important work. And, in the end, it will mean safer, healthier communities,” said Supervisor Steve Gallardo, District 5.
The Housing and Community Development Division of Maricopa County’s Human Services Department will coordinate and oversee these contracts and initiatives, with a full-time Homeless Program Manager providing primary oversight.