Oct. 24, 2012
Caption:Mayor Greg Stanton
Mayor Greg Stanton announced today a new city strategy to end homelessness in Phoenix by prioritizing housing for the chronically homeless.
The comprehensive Phoenix Homeless Initiative, approved Tuesday by the City Council, efficiently redeploys existing homeless services and grant funding at no new cost. Through a “housing first” strategy, 200 additional chronically homeless families and individuals will have access to permanent assisted housing over the next three years, starting in July 2013.
“More Phoenix families are struggling and falling through the cracks after facing job loss, foreclosure and a frayed social safety net due to massive budget cuts at every level,” Stanton said. “Taking care of our chronically homeless isn’t just the right thing to do — it helps improve the safety and overall health of our entire community.”
The Morrison Institute for Public Policy reports there may be 20,000 to 30,000 people who are homeless on any day in Arizona. In Phoenix, a resident who is chronically homeless is defined as experiencing homelessness for a year or longer or more than four times in the last three years, and has a disabling medical, mental or addictive condition. These are the most visible and most difficult to serve. They are more likely to need medial care, and could easily create $40,500 in hospital costs per year — costs that are shared by the public, according to the Morrison Institute.
No additional funding is needed for the new initiative, because it realigns city services and existing funding and combines services from the Housing and Human Services Department. The innovative “housing first” strategy allows homeless families, veterans, the chronically homeless and unaccompanied youth to move into permanent housing with supportive services and individualized case management.
Before, the City of Phoenix was operating on a first-come, first-serve basis. The new strategy builds upon the leadership provided over the last year by the Mayor, City Council and city staff.
“This new initiative means we are doing business a new way to attain greater outcomes and efficiencies,” City Manager David Cavazos said. “We will decrease homelessness and improve lives by aligning housing with services.”
Three major parts make up the program:
- Chronically homeless families will have priority access to public housing units through a homelessness initiative targeting families at the City of Phoenix Watkins Emergency Shelter. This shelter serves up to 120 single women and 20 families every night, providing accommodations, meals and access to physical and mental health care and case management services. The move will free up temporary shelter space for newly homeless families.
- Housing vouchers for rental assistance and homeless services will be combined for the first time through an RFP seeking agencies to administer the services to the chronically homeless.
- Through the initiative, 200 chronically homeless families will have access to permanent assisted housing over the next three years, starting in July 2013, through rental assistance vouchers and funding for services.
Stanton is a long-standing advocate of protecting the safety of all Phoenix residents. Just in the last year, Stanton brought to his staff a senior policy adviser on homelessness, a first for the mayor’s office. Additionally, an advisory group on homelessness was created. This new plan is just the latest effort to end homelessness in Phoenix.
“Retooling city resources to end homelessness rather than manage homelessness demonstrates the city's commitment to address individuals, family and youth homelessness,” said Darlene Newsom, CEO of United Methodist Outreach Ministries New Day Centers. “Strategies targeting housing with support services aligns with best practices nationally that have produced improved outcomes.”