A coalition of West Valley cities and towns are coming together to fight homelessness.
The cities of Peoria and Surprise have already joined what has come to be known as the West Valley Cooperative Homelessness Effort.
El Mirage, Glendale and Goodyear are taking resolutions to their councils for review and approval within the next few months. And other municipalities could follow, officials say.
The coalition is a collaborative effort for a continued commitment to collective and coordinated approaches to homelessness.
Peoria Neighborhood and Human Services Director Chris Hallett said a number of West Valley cities have been meeting for the last 18 months to discuss homeless issues, and a new council-approved resolution will complement what is already being done.
Homelessness does not stop at individual boarders, so there is power in numbers, he said.
“The more we work together, the better we are going to be able to handle these problems,” he said. “This will provide a more balanced approached to homelessness.”
The number of persons experiencing unsheltered homelessness in the Maricopa region has increased between 2014 and 2020, according to Maricopa Association of Governments.
Under Peoria’s resolution, the city will work with the coalition to explore regional solutions to homelessness; research best practices to prevent and reduce homelessness; share Peoria data with other jurisdictions for planning purposes; collaborate on regional strategies for consideration by each individual jurisdiction; and explore opportunities for a balanced portfolio of housing for all incomes and levels of support.
Mr. Hallett said this message of collaboration conveys that West Valley jurisdictions are committed to implementing collective and coordinated approaches to homelessness, which is especially appropriate when working with individuals who do not live within commonly defined boundaries and who may travel across municipalities for a variety of reasons.
In November 2017, West Valley city and town human services and police department directors and staff began meeting to specifically discuss regional homelessness. Members of this group expressed it would be valuable to discuss opportunities, best practices, resources and individual approaches in a collaborative group setting. Participants further defined the benefits of collaboration, which include improving information exchange, data sharing, leveraging resources, as well as defining common measurements, goals and terminology.
Currently, directors and staff from the cities of Avondale, El Mirage, Glendale, Goodyear, Peoria and Surprise regularly attend these meetings. Mr. Hallett said none of the participating jurisdictions individually possess all the resources needed to solve the cross-jurisdictional issue of homelessness, so with jurisdictions working together, resources could be better coordinated and leveraged to serve additional people in ways that are more effective and provide a wider array of resources for each jurisdictions’ citizens.
Seth Dyson, human service and community vitality director, said the City of Surprise has been an active member of this regional municipal collaborative for over a year.
He said the first and most immediate step for this municipal collaborative is to continue to gather data, trends and learn best practices. This includes but is not limited to homeless prevention, response and housing solutions to ensure homelessness is rare, brief and non-recurring. Understanding this is a regional issue, the collaborative will learn from each other and MAG’s Continuum of Care system to identity opportunities and challenges, he said.
“Surprise brings both in-kind assets through staff support along with city and federal financial resources to invest in programs,” Mr. Dyson said. “Current time and resource investments support the annual Point-in-Time count, supporting homeless prevention through the Surprise Resource Center programs, and helping to lead the efforts to establish the new Northwest Valley Interfaith Homeless Emergency Lodging Program, operated by Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest in partnership with several local churches.”