Nonprofit works to break cycle of homelessness in Maricopa County
PHOENIX — According to Arizona nonprofit Save the Family, 50 Maricopa County families fall into homelessness each week.
Save the Family works to help these families find a temporary safe place to stay, then identify strategies for securing stable, affordable housing.
According to the group, there are more than 200 families in the county waiting for housing placement. The typical wait time is two to five months, not counting time waited to enter emergency housing.
“You know, there are emergency shelters for families, but there just isn’t enough here in our local community” Jamie Podratz, Save the Family’s marketing manager, told KTAR News 92.3 FM last week.
Save the Family served 688 families last year, helping over 1,000 adults and 1,300 children find safe places to stay.
According to the group, for every 100 families seeking local, affordable housing, 21 units are available on average.
Many homeless parents lack a high school diploma, GED or training needed to get a job with a high enough wage to afford housing.
Other factors contributing to homelessness include trauma from childhood abuse, domestic violence in relationships and separation of families due to incarceration.
In a survey of 100 past clients, the organization found that 40-50 percent of clients had experienced homelessness as children, and 35 percent had an experience with child protective services or spent time in foster care system.
Save the Family’s client resource manager Celeste Adams said many families fall into category of “working poor.”
This means that while they have jobs, rental costs make up 40 to 50 percent or more of their expenses, forcing them to live paycheck to paycheck.
In an effort to break the cycle of homelessness, Save the Family offers a career resources center that helps train people to get better jobs, and therefore housing.
Save the Family also connects parents with childcare subsidies and helps children get involved in after-school programs.
“With our youth programs, we’re really trying to end that cycle through all the support we can bring to bear for not only the adult clients … but really providing these early interventions for youth,” Podratz said.
Adams and Podratz said donations are much appreciated, as they help Save the Family offer these services as well as host events like a Thanksgiving celebration for clients.
“Even the little things (people) do really matter to these families, and I really want to emphasize that, especially during the holiday season,” Adams said.
KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Taylor Kinnerup contributed to this report.