Volume 52 | January 6th, 2020
Reflections from Amy Schwabenlender, Executive Director
Installment #1 in the 2021 Reflections from the front lines serving adults experiencing homelessness, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Phoenix winter, and a quest to shelter more people.

With the close of 2020, I look back and see images of people - people served, people who ended their homelessness, people who lost their lives; I see employees who remained focused on doing whatever it takes to end homelessness. I hear daily phone calls about coordinating our Human Services Campus response to COVID. I feel the loss and the grief from people taken by this nasty virus. I also feel gratitude for having known them, for being inspired by them. I feel the love for my family, my husband, and my friends and colleagues. It was a year of unpredictability, of chaotic moments, of anxiety, of problem solving. It was a year of growth and learning, a year of resiliency. While it was a year of challenge, it was also a year of overcoming and surviving.

For 2021 I hope we move into a mode of thriving. We still operate in "COVID mode" following CDC guidelines, wearing PPE, requiring clients to wear masks, doing COVID screenings and regular testing. We maintain physical distancing and operate spaces with fewer people in them. I watch the people we serve and how they have adapted, dealing with COVID as yet one more challenge, one more barrier in their path to permanent housing. 

Vaccines are on the horizon, with a possible inclusion of our clients and employees in Phase 1 b.... which could mean vaccines before Spring. That will mean new processes and policies, conversations about who will receive the vaccine first as their won't be enough for everyone. We still serve about 800 people per day and have about 200 employees working on the Campus.

Scarcity. A common theme, pandemic or not, in our arena of ending homelessness. Systems have prioritization because there is not enough. Not enough shelter, not enough housing, not enough capacity in systems of care. Prioritization means we decide who won't be served, who won't receive.

Yet there is enough resource. There is a lack of will to make changes to place the resources where they are needed most. There is judgment of "who is deserving." There is still power in places and with people who recycle inequities and maintain the status quo for their own comfort.
2021 needs to be a year of disruption to make systems change to break the cycles of homelessness and poverty. I will stand up to those who use bullying and gaslighting tactics to stall our efforts, particularly our effort to shelter more people. Typing in all CAPS, yelling, cursing, and repeating mistruths do not turn opinion into fact.

The fact remains that we do not have enough shelter for all seeking it. The fact is that shelter helps save lives and provide stability for people to focus on housing solutions. The fact is that shelter works. And there is "enough" to make shelter available at the Campus. Shelter, housing, healthcare, holistic services are possible for all, with the will of people to support these efforts. If you are reading this, thank you. If you want to be part of solutions, please email me at amys@hsc-az.org.
Pandemic Increases Need for Bottled Water
ThirstAID Campaign Starts Early
While the HSC and our Campus partners are always in need of bottled water, the pandemic is requiring us to start our ThirstAid campaign early this year. CDC guidelines for distancing and sanitation prevent us from offering refillable water stations. Therefore, we need your help to provide water to our collective clients.

You may contribute online and help us purchase bottled water in bulk at discounted prices. Thank you for your support to help keep our clients healthy and hydrated!    
Seeking Public Support for More Shelter Beds
As we ring in the New Year with resolutions and hopes for 2021, we hope that this will be the year that we are granted permission to shelter more people. This January marks two years since we initially filed our request to add shelter beds. Our goal for 2021 is to bring people #FromStreettoHome, and we can use your help.  

This week, the Planning Commission is once again scheduled to hear our request. Our first hearing at the Planning Commission was on November 6th, and we encountered not one, but two continuances effectively delaying our case for two months. While these were frustrating setbacks, we used our time to conduct additional to community outreach and to gather additional community support. Since our first continuance, we’ve:
  1. Received unanimous support from the Phoenix Commission on Human Relations.
  2. Learned that 2020 was exceptionally deadly for people experiencing homelessness, with over 500 people passing away in the first 9 months alone.
  3. Attended two additional community meetings at the request of Councilmember Nowakowski, where we provided information about the stipulations related to our request.
  4. Hosted six additional meetings with our immediate neighbors, members of the Madison Pioneer Coalition.
  5. Attended a meeting with representatives from Maricopa County, the City of Phoenix and the Madison Pioneer Coalition to seek solutions to some of the concerns about trash and other public health issues.
  6. Collected a significant number of petition signatures, bringing our total to over 21,000 signatures.

Now, we are asking for your help to prepare for the upcoming Planning Commission hearing on January 7th at 6pm. Submit a comment in support of our request by sending an email to: pdd.planningcomm@phoenix.gov, referencing Item 19, case Z-SP-2-19-7. Your voice makes a difference!
Our Mission: Using the Power of Collaboration to End Homelessness
Human Services Campus | 204 S. 12th Avenue Phoenix, AZ 85007 | 602.282.0853 | www.hsc-az.org