[Source: Jahna Berry, Arizona Republic] — The grim economy has driven Valley residents to turn to charities of last resort: shelters and food banks. The economy is also taking a toll on the non-profits that are helping them. St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance gave away 70 percent more food to needy families this past December than it did the same month in 2007. Officials say food programs will be scaled back unless they receive more donations.
In six months, the number of people who line up for a free breakfast has roughly doubled at downtown Phoenix’s Human Services Campus. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, an agency that serves meals there, had to lay off eight workers and stopped serving lunch to the needy in Sunnyslope because donations are down. At the campus, volunteers and employees help handle housekeeping duties because of staff cutbacks, one official said.
Each night, more than 300 people sleep in the parking lot of one Phoenix homeless shelter for men because there’s no room left inside of the building. Central Arizona Shelter Services, the non-profit that runs that shelter and two others, lost $118,000 of the $839,000 that it used to get annually from Phoenix, a victim of city budget cuts. Maricopa County, another major funding source, is weighing whether to cut its CASS contribution by half. Maricopa County contributes $600,000 to CASS programs, roughly 10 percent of its $6 million annual operating budget, Jennifer Dangremond, CASS’s development director. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]
[Source: Lindsey Collom, Arizona Republic] — Cecilia didn’t look up. A man who was with her had slinked away into the darkness, leaving a broken crack pipe and Cecilia alone to answer police and social workers. She rummaged through a tote filled with papers and other clutter, ignoring the headlights that broke the night and illuminated her campsite of boxes and bags on a central Phoenix roadside.
Homeless-shelter operators, on a regular nighttime sweep of downtown, said they often found Cecilia sleeping on the streets, even though she had an apartment. “For a long time, we’re just kind of thinking she was lonely,” said Sean Bonnette, a shelter manager at Central Arizona Shelter Services, Arizona’s largest homeless shelter. “She’d just come out here and stash stuff. She wants to sit out here….It’s hard to teach someone to not be homeless.”
Service providers and Phoenix police have joined forces to attack chronic homelessness by reaching out to those who won’t ask for assistance. A team of Phoenix police and CASS specialists has been crisscrossing downtown Phoenix four nights a week to engage homeless people who have severed connections with service providers and are drowning in mental illness or substance abuse. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]
[Source: Lindsey Collom, Arizona Republic] — Phoenix police and Central Arizona Shelter Services are hitting the streets to help the homeless get the social services they need. A caravan of CASS specialists and Phoenix police crisscross the streets of downtown Phoenix four nights a week to seek out people without shelter and offer assistance, such as a place to stay or enrollment in a detox program. Officials say the outreach effort, which is nearly two years old, has reached more than 1,800 homeless and helped reduce violent and property crimes in the area from Seventh to 19th avenues and Van Buren Street to Grand Avenue.
Ben Zachariah, supervisor for adult services for CASS, and Phoenix police Sgt. Sean Connelly developed the street team to address root causes of homelessness, including mental illness and substance addiction. Connelly said police in the CASS area used to “arrest our way to solutions.” But the method was costly and largely ineffective: The city pays nearly $200 to book a suspect into Maricopa County jail on misdemeanor violations, and the suspect is typically released within hours. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]
[Source: Dennis Lambert, KTAR Radio] — The Valley’s homeless population is growing. Mark Holleran of Central Arizona Shelter Services said the population at the shelter in downtown Phoenix has jumped from about 550 a night to more than 1,000 over the last three years. “Our numbers have grown probably 10 percent in the last year alone,” Holleran said. “We think absolutely that it’s economy driven.
“The real problem I have right now is not serving people when they come in, but figuring out where they’re going to go to. My job is to move them through the shelter system as quickly as possible.” Eight percent of those seeking services are single adults, many of whom have addiction and correction issues, Holleran said. CASS turns away homeless families every day because there’s simply not enough room.
[Source: Connie Cone Sexton, Arizona Republic] — Levi Caddell’s comments came near the end of the meeting, but he seemed to provide one of the clearest reasons why those around him had gathered at the Phoenix hotel today. “Three years ago, I was a homeless vet on the streets of Phoenix,” he said. “But the system works. They gave me my life back.” Caddell, 56, was giving thanks to the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care System, Central Arizona Shelter Services, and other groups in the Valley that help the homeless. Caddell now serves as a veteran support specialist for CASS in Phoenix. His is just one success, VA employees said. They want more.
It was why they brought together representatives of non-profit groups and organizations that assist the homeless or veterans. The meeting was part of an initiative by Project CHALENG, a federal Department of Veterans Affairs program that stands for Community Homelessness Assessment, Local Education, and Networking Groups. Each year, leaders of Project CHALENG ask groups or organizations assisting the homeless to fill out a survey to help discover the unmet needs of homeless veterans. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]