Sinema: Social workers key for dual diagnosis people experiencing homelessness in Valley

Jun 16, 2023, 4:25 AM | Updated: 6:16 am

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)...

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, a former social worker, believes their work with people experiencing homelessness in Maricopa County who are considered “dual-diagnosis” individuals are among the most important in combatting the problem.

People with multiple issues that are keeping them on the streets — Sinema offered drug addiction and mental health problems as examples — need the proper care from social workers to turn their lives around, according to Arizona’s senior senator.

Sinema experienced homeless as a child at times and added that breaking out of the cycle can be difficult.

“For individuals who are experiencing both of those challenges at the same time, it can be very, very difficult to get them into long-term housing or into programs on a path of stability,” Sinema told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on Thursday.

The senator said a social worker’s best way to help those people is by listening and offering services, which vary on a case-by-case basis.

“If someone says, look, I’m not ready to go into long-term shelter, but I do need help with a meal today or I do need help with a shower today or I would like somewhere to sleep for a few days or I would like help getting off of drugs, whatever it is, a person is ready for, that’s what we want to offer them,” Sinema said.

Once that relationship is cemented, Sinema said social workers can start building trust and slowly address more needs.

She said there are multiple benefits to the approach.

“It makes a lot of sense to do it this way because the data shows very clearly that once we help individuals get access to one or more of these services, then they get independent and no longer rely on public services,” Sinema said.

“So it actually helps save the state and the county money and it helps people be productive members of society.”

As for the role of the federal government, Sinema said providing money to states is the best plan.

“The No. 1 thing that the federal government can do is provide funding to states so that they can address the issue,” Sinema said. “That’s the No. 1 thing to do.”

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Sinema: Social workers key for dual diagnosis people experiencing homelessness in Valley