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Phoenix introduces homeless aid initiative

Phoenix city leaders announced Wednesday the Phoenix Homeless Initiative, a new strategy to end homelessness in the city by “prioritizing housing for the chronically homeless.”

“For that person living on the street, if they don’t have support, it can be a complicated path,” said Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. “If you put the right people there to help, it can be achieved.”

According to the city, the initiative was unanimously approved by City Council on Tuesday and it “efficiently redeploys existing homeless services and grant funding at no new cost.”

Essentially, through a “housing first” strategy, 200 additional families will have access to permanent housing over the next three years and access to professional services to address medical, mental health and substance abuse issues.

“So many of the folks that you see could end the cycle of homelessness, if they just get the support services necessary. Mental illness can be treated. Substance abuse can be treated,” said Stanton.

There will be no new funding needed implement this comprehensive program. Instead, the city will utilize “existing resources through innovative partnerships between previously uncoordinated city services.”

In 2011, a statewide street count and DES Shelter report found that there were over 15,000 homeless in Arizona. The Morrison Institute reports that there may be 20,000 to 30,000 homeless in Arizona on any given day.