ARIZONA NEWS

Phoenix region to partner with federal government to address homelessness

May 19, 2023, 4:25 AM | Updated: 10:36 am

(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)...

(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

PHOENIX – A new federal program will help the Phoenix area to address homelessness, according to the Maricopa Association of Governments.

The White House and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) are teaming up with the region to participate in its new initiative, ALL INside.

As part of the initiative, Valley officials will partner with USICH and its 19 federal agencies for up to two years. The program also includes state officials in California and local governments in Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Seattle.

During that time, ALL INside plans to strengthen and accelerate local efforts to reduce the number of people living on the streets and get them into homes. The initiative is part of a federal strategic plan to reduce homelessness by 25% by 2025 and ultimately build a country where every person has a safe and affordable home.

The goal is for the federal government to provide “knowledge, resources and elbow grease” to population centers where nearly half the nation’s unhoused residents live, said Susan Rice, President Joe Biden’s domestic policy advisor.

“Too many people nationwide are facing housing insecurity and homelessness, and it’s going to take all of us to arrive at additional workable solutions,” Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said in a press release.

Gallego said Phoenix has stepped up to lead regional efforts that assist the city’s most vulnerable, from shelters for veterans to free mental health care services.

“Of course, the work won’t and can’t stop there, which is why we are enthusiastic about working through federal channels such as the ALL INside Initiative to address homelessness across the Valley,” Gallego said.

Mesa Mayor John Giles said homelessness is unique to each individual and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution.

“Mesa’s Community Court and Off the Streets Program are meeting people where they are and helping to break the cycle, getting people on a path to steady employment and stable housing,” he said. “Mesa is pleased to work with the city of Phoenix and our region to address these issues.”

At a launch event with the White House, Giles said the program started during the COVID-19 pandemic and wants to build on what they’ve learned from the it.

“We have a remarkable success rate with our Off the Streets Program, believe it or not, it’s 75%,” Giles said.  “And we’re still improving and learning on how to respond to this issue.”

Clint Hickman, District 4 chair of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, said they have a remarkable collaboration across the region to tackle homelessness and housing issues.

“By harnessing the collective strength of partners including Phoenix, Mesa and MAG [Maricopa Association of Governments], Maricopa County has successfully mobilized over half a billion dollars from diverse funding sources toward initiatives that span the entire housing spectrum, effectively combating and preventing homelessness,”  Hickman said.

Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs, a former social worker, successfully pushed for $150 million to be included in Arizona’s Housing Trust Fund in the state’s budget to shore up rent and utility assistance programs, eviction prevention, and build new shelters and affordable housing.

More than 580,000 Americans were homeless in 2022, with 4 out of 10 of them unsheltered and sleeping on sidewalks and in tents and cars, Rice said.

“We know we cannot meaningfully address our nation’s homelessness problem without a distinct focus on unsheltered homelessness,” she said during a livestreamed announcement with the cities’ mayors and other officials.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Phoenix region to partner with federal government to address homelessness