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Board allocates funds to keep Phoenix homeless shelter open through winter

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

PHOENIX — A homeless shelter in downtown Phoenix is getting a temporary new lease on life, at least through the winter.

Maricopa County had planned to phase out the temporary overflow shelter near 12th Avenue and Jackson Street when funds were due to run out in October, but St. Vincent De Paul offered to operate the shelter at a reduced cost until February.

On Thursday, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors allotted $95,000 to keep it open until then.

County Supervisor Steve Chucri said the decision was the result of people working together to get something accomplished.

“Everyone sat at the table and everyone problem solved and we were able to bridge that gap,” he said.

Up to 250 homeless people can stay at the shelter at night while groups work to find them permanent housing.

“There’s a need for shelter,” Bruce Liggett, director of the Maricopa County Human Services Department, said. “But the real solution is housing for the homeless. Permanent housing with support services — that’s the real solution.”

The city of Phoenix, Valley of the Sun United Way, the Arizona Housing Department and the Arizona Department of Economic Security are also involved to help those at the shelter.

Maricopa County Supervisor Steve Gallardo is encouraging other groups to get involved.

“This isn’t just Phoenix’s problem,” he said. “This is a community problem. We need everyone involved and engaged in how do we address homelessness in Maricopa County.”

In almost two years, Maricopa County and its partners have helped to place 500 homeless people into permanent housing and contributed more than $4.5 million to operate the shelter.

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