By Debra Stark, District 3 Councilwoman
In the city of Phoenix, homelessness and affordable housing continue to be top priorities. Homelessness has been a growing concern not only in Phoenix, but in the entire nation—no doubt the pandemic has worsened the situation.
The Phoenix City Council recently approved a Strategies to Address Homelessness Plan that focuses on strategies to help persons experiencing homelessness and best practices to mitigate impacts to surrounding neighborhoods. The plan, which identifies gaps, and outlines goals and objectives, was developed with community input from dozens of public meetings that included hundreds of attendees and thousands of community member comments.
One important element of the Strategies to Address Homelessness Plan is the creation of a Homeless Strategies Taskforce, made up of 18 community members, service providers, business owners, members of the faith community, etc. This group will meet monthly to provide recommendations to the city.
The Strategies to Address Homeless Plan also incorporates the Council-approved Housing Phoenix Plan, the first-ever plan created by the city, which establishes a goal to create and preserve 50,000 homes by 2030 to address the housing shortage in Phoenix. The Housing Phoenix Plan identifies housing needs, gaps and recommends policy initiatives to reach the goal of providing more affordable housing, which is critical in preventing homelessness.
In 2019, the city of Phoenix spent about $20 million in services related to homeless solutions across city departments. About $4 million of that was dedicated to direct services to help those experiencing homelessness, including homeless outreach and engagement, veteran navigation and engagement, emergency shelter, rent and utility assistance, eviction prevention, and more.
For those experiencing homelessness, PHX C.A.R.E.S. (Community Action Response Engagement Services) sends trained outreach teams, who take the time to build rapport and trust with people on the street, to encourage them to accept the services and resources that are offered to help end their homelessness. PHX C.A.R.E.S. also unifies city resources and community partners to respond to the impacted neighborhood and business with services and education.
To report encampments to PHX C.A.R.E.S., Call 602-262-6251 (follow the prompts in the customer service line) or report online with Phoenix At Your Service: phoenix.gov/atyourservice (Click “Phoenix CARES About Homelessness” tab).
The city of Phoenix is also a partner of the Healthy Giving Council, which aims to educate and encourage the public to give in manner that is sustainable, productive, and will help lead people out of their homelessness. The Healthy Giving Council is a coalition of community members, business partners, faith community, government agencies, service providers, and more. Learn more at givesmartaz.org.
To learn more about Phoenix’s Strategies to Address Homelessness plan, visit phoenix.gov/homelesshelp. Updates from the Homelessness Task Force will also be posted on the same webpage when available.