Here it is February of 2021, and as in the rest of the world, there are still positive COVID-19 cases in our client population. Thankfully Circle the City, Maricopa County and a multitude of partners remain diligent in following CDC guidelines, testing, and rolling out vaccines. The vaccine roll out cannot seem to happen fast enough for any of us. We remain hyper-focused on ensuring the safest and healthiest environment on Campus.
In Zoning news, a culmination of two years' of work is bittersweet, with an emphasis on "bitter." The good news is we have approval for additional shelter beds in Central Arizona Shelter Services (CASS) shelter on the Human Services Campus, and we have approval for episodic weather relief for 200 people in other buildings. The bad news is we did not receive approval for 100 beds at Andre House to be operated by Community Bridges. This program would add a component that is non-existent on the Campus with a 24/7 shelter program for people who have multiple barriers to entering more "traditional" shelters.
I must thank the following who stood up and voted to approve our entire request: Mayor Kate Gallego, Councilman Carlos Garcia, Councilwomen Betty Guardado and Laura Pastor. We only needed one more vote. We look forward to working with you to find a path to sheltering more people, at the Campus and across the Valley.
So, yes we will be able to shelter more people. And yet it is painful that we have an empty building ready for renovation, with funding on hand for those costs. And we have 400+ people looking for shelter, and we can't provide it to them. And we have a set of stipulations that we agree to, although they present challenges, and we will most likely still disappoint our neighbors because we will not be able to shelter everyone. This means that unsheltered people will sleep, sit and exist in public easements. None of us want that. And now our hands our retied to a new capacity barrier.
I am so proud of all the people that spoke their testimony and wrote comments to the Council. Thank you for supporting us.
We are still listening to our neighbors who are unhoused and unsheltered. And we will keep problem solving and fighting to provide them safe, affordable shelter and ultimately housing. "We" means the super special, fantastic partners that I have the honor of working with at the HSC (Andre House, St. Vincent de Paul, CASS, Community Bridges, Homeless ID Project, St. Joseph the Worker, Circle the City, AZ DES, Chaplaincy for the Homeless, A New Leaf, Catholic Charities, Brighter Way, Justa Center, ELAINE), and all the others across the community. There is a depth of unmatched compassion, understanding, and expertise across these agencies, and I appreciate you all more than you will ever know.