In our United Way office there's a quote from Lawrence, a resident of a permanent supportive housing apartment:
Because of the needs of people in our community, like Lawrence, we at United Way set a high bar for ourselves, our partners and the Valley. We work hard every day to achieve our community objectives, including to End Homelessness. Although some might scoff and say it isn't possible, we believe it is. We believe that by changing systems away from a focus on managing homelessness to one of ending homelessness, we will, as a community, make homelessness a vestige of the past.
An end to homelessness doesn’t mean people won’t experience a housing crisis; it means our community will be ready to help them quickly move from crisis to lasting stability.
Recently, there has been heightened attention on homelessness in our community due to the imminent closure of the Men's Overflow Shelter (MOS) planned for April 1.
Maricopa County and the Arizona Department of Housing opened the MOS in 2007 to accommodate individuals experiencing homelessness during the intense summer heat. What originated as a short-term life-saving measure has evolved into a long-term nightly solution for 500 individuals. The structure, a former warehouse, is not zoned as a place for people to live or sleep and requires upgrades and rehab too costly to keep it open.
We at United Way are at the table with many partners to develop solutions for housing these individuals—both short term and permanent.
Among the solutions being developed are new tools for assessing the most effective interventions and services for each individual; rapid, short-term housing while helping individuals and families resolve the causal issues; and permanent supportive housing in conjunction with wrap-around support services that those with disabilities, such as mental or medical issues, need to remain housed and get healthy.
Permanent Supportive Housing is a critical piece to ending homelessness overall. Without housing, these individuals use a disproportionate amount of available emergency services—ER, police, incarcerations and shelter services—at a cost to the community of $40,000 per year. Permanent Supportive Housing not only drops that cost to $15,000 per year, it frees those vital emergency services to help families and individuals experiencing homelessness for the first time get back on their feet more quickly.
For more detailed information about homelessness and United Way's role, view these Q&A’s.