The city of Peoria has enlisted a couple friends to help fight homelessness in the city.
City Council recently approved three-year contracts not to exceed $200,000 per year with Deep Within Rehab and Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest for homeless shelter services, in particular, shelter beds.
Funding for the contracts is through the American Rescue Plan Act grant.
Both nonprofits will have an annual option to renew their contract for up to two additional years.
Peoria more than tripled its homelessness count from 2017 to 2019 — 22 to 78 — and added five to its total in 2020, according to the Maricopa Association of Government’s Point-in-Time homeless count.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development approved the Maricopa Regional Continuum of Care to opt out of the 2021 Point-In-Time Homeless Count for unsheltered individuals, which has been on the rise in Maricopa County.
Officials say this has made it challenging to get an accurate gauge on exactly how many people are homeless in Peoria.
However, Chris Hallett, neighborhoods and human services director, said there is a drastic need for additional homeless services in the region and under the new agreements, the services provided will run the gamut — basic needs and services that are not expansively available in Peoria, such as hygiene, a night’s sleep, a hot meal and educational job opportunities.
For both companies, all beds will be accessed through a regional coordinated entry system.
“A lot of people might think of homeless shelters and they think of people camping outside, waiting to get in, and that’s not how it works. They are coordinated through the Phoenix Rescue Mission or other coordinated entry points in the region and then they would be transported,” Hallett said. “It is a destination, not a walk up service delivery model.”
Deep Within provides substance abuse recovery to men age 17 and older, many of whom have been homeless.
Deep Within’s contract with the city provides up to eight beds per night, three meals per day, hygiene items, all day shelter and case management services until moved to permanent housing, as well as substance abuse assistance if needed.
Under the agreement the Deep Within shelter will be accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for homeless individuals. The partnership has set a one-year goal to serve 90 individuals and provide 2,900 bed nights.
Additionally, as part of the recent council approval, nonprofit homeless provider Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest will make their program, Interfaith Homeless Emergency Lodging Program, or I-HELP, available to Peoria homeless.
I-HELP is an interfaith homeless emergency lodging program that uses rotating houses of worship located in Peoria or the West Valley to temporarily house homeless individuals.
Under this contract, I-HELP will shelter a minimum of two Peoria clients, two nights per week. Within six months, shelter nights will be expanded to four nights per week. I-HELP has the capacity to serve up to 12 beds per night, Monday through Friday.
The partnership has set a one-year goal to serve 60 individuals and provide 1,800 bed nights.
Philip Haldiman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @philiphaldiman.
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