Human Services Campus unveils new website as part of effort for more bed

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With more than 800 men and women experiencing homelessness on the Human Services Campus every day, there are not enough shelter beds to accommodate them.

To address the challenge on the Human Services Campus and across the Valley, provide information about homelessness and support Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego’s efforts to develop a regional approach to addressing the issue, HSC has launched a new informational website, www.fromstreettohome.org.

Human Services Campus, which owns and manages the 13-acre campus housing 16 independent nonprofit organizations collaborating on a range of services, is seeking Phoenix City Council approval to add more shelter beds, according to a press release.

On March 3, Ms. Gallego announced Gov. Doug Ducey was convening Maricopa County mayors to design a regional plan to respond to homelessness across the Valley and expressed her likely support for a zoning-changing request by HSC to add more beds to the campus.

The HSC request, which requires council approval and would adhere to agreed-upon stipulations suggested by the city, includes three components:

  • Adding 275 beds at Central Arizona Shelter Services, which has 425 beds filled almost every night. CASS’ Certificate of Occupancy allows for 700 beds.
  • Allow the Andre House, which owns property adjacent to the campus, to develop a new 80-100-bed shelter to operate on a 24/7 basis to assist individuals who may encounter challenges because of pets and possessions that deter them from receiving services.
  • Allow an additional ad hoc 200 emergency shelter beds in the St. Vincent de Paul dining room during extreme summer and winter weather.

In conjunction with the effort to increase beds, the HSC awareness campaign “will bring additional and necessary attention to the need for more beds as a key component to the need for a broad, collaborative regional strategy to address homelessness across Maricopa County,” HSC Executive Director Amy Schwabenlender said.

The new website also will offer ways for the public to support Ms. Gallego’s effort including petitions that can be signed.

“We are not looking to expand the campus, but are proposing to use our existing space more efficiently for those men and women already on the campus so more people can sleep inside,” Ms. Schwabenlender said in a prepared statement.

“There is no doubt that we need a regional solution to the issue of homelessness, and there are steps being taken, but there are people living on the streets right now who need and want help and there are people dying while they wait.”

If approved, a fundraising campaign will be launched for necessary changes and expansion to the existing structure. Andre House would cover the costs to develop the proposed shelter that also would offer access to additional facilities including bathrooms and showers.

“By increasing the number of people we can shelter who are already on the campus, we can move them more quickly into services and programs to transition off the streets and into jobs and permanent affordable housing,” Ms. Schwabenlender said.

“At the same time, we continue working toward and advocating for regional solutions to homelessness.”

During the past five years, over 10,000 individuals were assisted with permanent housing from the Human Services Campus, which also is part of a network of 18 coordinated entry points for single adults in the Valley.

In 2018, over 4,000 individuals accessed services at the 17 other access points and did not come to the Human Services Campus.

Ms. Schwabenlender said representatives from the Human Services Campus, CASS, Andre House and St. Vincent de Paul have been working with community members in nearby neighborhoods to answer questions and address concerns.

“We are taking important steps in collaboration with neighborhood organizations and individuals,” she said.
Among the action steps are an ongoing neighborhood clean-up program driven by volunteers from the campus, working with city and county officials to promote accountability for street-feeding ordinances.

These ordinances are designed to prevent that activity, continuing to enhance the relationship between the campus and Phoenix Police Department and exploring partnerships to bring financial services to the campus.

“We remain fully committed to our mission,” Ms. Schwabenlender said. “Our first goal is always to reunify as many individuals experiencing homelessness with their families, friends and caregivers as quickly and efficiently as possible so that they can end their homelessness without using the shelter system.”

Over 400 individuals were reunited with friends or family in 2018 and 84 percent did not return to homelessness after one year, a release claims.

“Phoenix is among the nation’s fastest-growing cities and we are seeing more people on the streets, rising eviction and rental rates and a lack of affordable housing,” Ms. Schwabenlender said.

“The Human Services Campus opened in 2005 as a compassionate solution to the problem of homelessness and today is a national model of collaboration that serves a truly vulnerable population that all too often remains hidden in our society and whose chronic needs are unmet.”

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