ARIZONA NEWS

Officials: Phoenix close to eliminating chronic homelessness of vets

Nov 13, 2013, 11:43 AM

PHOENIX — By Jan. 1, housing agencies will have found homes for the last 56 chronically homeless veterans in the Valley, making it the first metropolitan area in the country to accomplish this, advocates say.

After Mayor Greg Stanton told a Veterans Day event that Phoenix would commit $100,000 to the effort, the City Council voted Tuesday to do just that. The funds will pay for temporary housing for chronically homeless veterans and for additional case workers to bring them services.

Jodi Liggett, Stanton’s senior policy adviser on homelessness, said ending chronic homelessness among veterans will galvanize the public to help homeless families and address chronic homelessness among the general population.

“You start to realize, ‘Oh, this is possible,'” she said. “You don’t have to have people living under bridges and pushing shopping carts around in your community. It doesn’t have to be that way, it’s not inevitable.”

Two years ago, there were 222 veterans who met the definition of chronically homeless in the Phoenix area. In October, advocates counted 56.

This is the result of about five years of work by state and local agencies and nonprofit groups, using money from the federal government, said Sean Price, homeless veteran services coordinator at Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services.

“If you don’t have that high-level leadership and support, then it’s very hard to break down all the barriers in the systems that are in place to tackle the chronic,” he said.

Price said housing chronically homeless veterans will allow transitional and emergency shelters to serve veterans more effectively.

“If we can eliminate that chronic piece, that’s gonna free up a lot more resources for the general homeless veteran population,” he said. “And also the chronic population, the majority of them are living on the street, so that’s the visible sign of veteran homelessness, so you’re taking out the hardest to serve and then you’re working up to an easier-to-serve population.”

Price said that veterans made up almost a quarter of all people at shelters when service providers began focusing on eliminating chronic homelessness among veterans several years ago.

Mitch, who served in the Navy during the Vietnam War, found a home at a transitional shelter two weeks ago. He asked that his last name not be used so that future potential employers couldn’t identify him as someone who had been homeless.

Mitch choked up as he described 11 painful months on the streets, bouncing around among emergency shelters.

“The older we are, the more vulnerable we are,” he said. “I was beat up a couple of times, I was robbed about five or six times. I wound up in the hospital on and off all year long. It’s embarrassing and it’s very hard to deal with. It’s hard to describe how it makes you feel.”

In Phoenix, advocates said, it takes an average of 28 to 33 days to find permanent, independent housing for veterans who are chronically homeless. The money approved by the City Council will provide shelter during that period.

The federal government said people are chronically homeless if they spent at least 12 consecutive months on the streets or experienced four separate periods of homelessness in the last three years with a disabling condition such as a physical or mental health issue or a substance abuse problem.

Liggett said getting chronically homeless people into housing has a variety of benefits both for the homeless individuals and families and for society.

“Being homeless is like living under siege,” she said. “You are constantly on your guard, it’s actually a very dangerous way to live.”

Chronically homeless people often use emergency medical care, Liggett said. What would be noncatastrophic health issues among other populations can add up to $40,000-$80,000 in emergency care per person annually.

“The human cost is terrible, but there’s also a real hard-dollar cost to the community when people are chronically homeless,” she said.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

phoenix police asked public to find homicide suspect after dead body found in canal...

KTAR.com

Phoenix police ask for public help in investigation of dead body found in canal

Phoenix police found a dead body in a canal on Wednesday. Now detectives are asking the public for help in finding the homicide suspect.

11 minutes ago

Phoenix's police oversight office released its first reviews of the department's excessive force ca...

KTAR.com

Office of Accountability and Transparency releases reviews of 2 Phoenix excessive force cases

Phoenix's police oversight office released its first reviews of the department's excessive force cases on Thursday.

1 hour ago

This is the third time Pennington has been arrested in youth violence investigations. (Maricopa Cou...

Serena O'Sullivan

Gilbert police arrest suspect for third time in connection with youth violence

Jacob Pennington, 20, is accused of attacking a victim in September 2023. Earlier this week, Gilbert arrested a minor in the same case.

2 hours ago

(Photo by Rebecca Noble/Getty Images)...

Jim Sharpe

Meghan McCain won’t forgive Kari — but Lake better hope plenty of other moderates do

KTAR News host Jim Sharpe knows Meghan McCain won't forgive Kari Lake anytime soon, but the Senate candidate better hope moderate Republicans do.

4 hours ago

Split panel of a headshot of Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell on the left and the mugshot o...

Kevin Stone

NYC can have murder suspect after he’s tried in Arizona, Maricopa County attorney says

New York City authorities can get their hands on a man wanted for murder there after he’s been prosecuted for crimes in Arizona, Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell said Thursday.

5 hours ago

...

Sponsored Content by Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

Sponsored Articles

...

Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Valley residents should be mindful of plumbing ahead of holidays

With Halloween in the rear-view and more holidays coming up, Day & Night recommends that Valley residents prepare accordingly.

Officials: Phoenix close to eliminating chronic homelessness of vets