Reflections from Amy Schwabenlender, CEO
Reflections from the front lines serving people experiencing homelessness, as Phoenix makes its transition to Winter, and the 19th Annual Mike McQuaid I am Home Breakfast is a mere 11 days away.
On December 5, 2022, I wrote that there were 800 unsheltered people around the Human Services Campus and over 900 sheltered. I wrote that I was conscious of sounding like Debbie Downer and would move towards a positive message before the I am Home Breakfast.
And here I am again. Our team counted 166 unsheltered people around the Campus last Tuesday, November 28, while 900+ slept indoors in buildings on the Campus.
The work is complete as ordered by a Judge for the City of Phoenix to remove the encampment of human beings living on streets and sidewalks, in tents and makeshift structures. The sidewalks themselves are once again visible. The dirt between sidewalks and fences is barren. Nary a tent nor tarp is attached to a fence post or tree.
The short days of Winter are here. The afternoons darken and people shuffle with collars and hoods up, hands in pockets. For the non-Phoenicians, it's not freezing and yet with clouds and a "feels like" temperature in the 50s, it's chilly. It's not comfortable for hunkering down and sleeping. And once the sun is completely set it's an uncomfortable atmosphere for sleeping outdoors. The desire to start a fire for warmth is not unexpected.
There are 7,462 adults in Maricopa County who have completed housing assessments and are putting things together to pursue a housing plan, however finding vacancies, and ones with affordable rents is a most audaciously difficult task.
Those are my Debbie Downer observations. The data that demonstrates the unending demand for services, the unpredictable future as to the number of people who will lose their housing, and the challenges of providing shelter and referrals to housing.
On the upside...[Read More]