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Phoenix lawmaker goes homeless to support veterans’ shelter

PHOENIX — Wearing a hoodie and baseball cap, Arizona Rep. Mark Cardenas, D-Phoenix, looked nothing like the lawmaker he is when he woke up on Friday morning.

His jeans were muddy, and he’d slept about 30 minutes after spending the night in a downtown Phoenix parking lot.

“We had our sleeping bag and we had a mat. We used backpacks as pillows,” said Cardenas, who’s been sleeping outside since Tuesday night.

He’s on a mission to raise awareness about the MANA House in Phoenix, which provides resources to homeless veterans. The women’s section is in jeopardy of shutting down if funding doesn’t come soon.

Cardenas, an Army veteran, learned about MANA’s struggles from an activist friend, who has been sleeping outside for a month to raise awareness about the shelter.

“I decided to jump into the fight as well, so I sent a letter to the governor, asking her to release emergency funds to keep it open,” Cardenas said.

In the meantime, Cardenas wants to raise over $56,000 to keep the facility running. If not, 16 homeless female veterans are in danger of ending up back on the streets.

“These are the people that went overseas for us, they fought for us, they sacrificed for us. The lease we can do is keep a facility that is needed and is valued,” he said.

He’s not alone.

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