Photo courtesy of city of Tempe

Tempe continues to accelerate its homeless response, with strategies to enhance emergency shelter, increase longer-term support through case management, and expand job opportunities for individuals experiencing homelessness.

At the same time, Tempe’s 24/7 outreach model is successfully helping people access emergency shelter and housing, reconnect with family, connect with medical care, and recover vital documents needed to help end their homelessness. Through approximately 14,000 engagements, approximately 1,000 people have been helped off the streets in just over a year.

“In Tempe, we are heavily invested in the health and wellbeing of our unsheltered population and the broader community,” says Mayor Corey Woods. “Working together with our residents, business community, and nonprofit partners, we are continually enhancing our response to meet more needs and make homelessness a rare, brief, and one-time experience.”

Expanding Tempe Works
Tempe Works connects unsheltered people with city jobs in Municipal Utilities and Community Services. Through the program, they can get help accessing shelter, housing, and social services. Established in 2017, Tempe Works is actively seeking local employers to expand jobs. Adding new opportunities means more pathways out of homelessness for people like Jeffery Wessell, 63, a Tempe Works graduate who now has housing and works 40 hours a week for the city.

A serious back injury left the truck driver unable to work and pay his rent. He dipped into retirement and scraped by with help from family and friends, but ultimately was evicted. After years of steady employment and independence, Wessell found himself living in his truck in Tempe. He connected with I-HELP, a nonprofit Tempe shelter program, and then the city’s Tempe Works jobs program.

After working for Municipal Utilities, he graduated from Tempe Works and began another job with the city, helping maintain the Double Butte Cemetery and assisting with funeral services. His steady paycheck covers rent for a one-bedroom apartment – and buys peace of mind.

“I have my own little space and I’m trying to get back on my feet,” Wessell says. “It’s nice. I can stretch out, put my feet up. I have my television. I can fix meals. I can take a shower anytime I want. I can go wash my clothes and not carry them around with me and wait for the opportunity to exist.”

“I can relax. I don’t have as much on my mind,” he says. “I didn’t know if I’d be able to work again because of the condition of my back. It feels good.”

Employers interested in Tempe Works can contact program coordinator Lilliana Urenda at [email protected].