It seems like a lot of money -- $2.5 million – but it’s actually priceless when you consider the money was used to get 250 homeless people off the streets in Phoenix into their own apartment as part of Rapid Rehousing, a program that helps with rent and supportive services for a short time.
Investing $2.5 million in this project for single adults is unique in the United States. “The Phoenix area is the first – we’ve been called the pioneer by other organizations – in creating this type of rapid rehousing for single adults,” said Amy. “Housing individuals is the humane right thing to do and it makes sense from a cost perspective because the longer people are experiencing homelessness, living on the streets, the more likely they are to become chronically homeless.”*
Supporting homelessness costs the taxpayer more money, as well. “So people experiencing homelessness use more public systems, not just emergency shelters that United Way funds with donor contributions and other people fund through non-profit donations as well as government funding, they also take up time and resources of law enforcement,” said Amy. “So police are asked to remove people from their neighborhoods. Or police are arresting people for minor offenses. I would rather have the police focused on bigger issues than minor offenses like trespassing or public urination that people are doing because they have nowhere else to go.”
Another thing that makes Rapid-Rehousing a different and effective program is public and private partners working together. This is important because no one organization can do it alone. Amy said, “It really took the City of Phoenix, Maricopa County, Arizona Department of Housing and Valley of the Sun United Way working together to pull the resources into one pot of money and to then agree on how that money will be spent.”**
* People that experience chronic homelessness are individuals who haven’t had a home for at least a year or have been homeless multiple times in recent years who also have a disability.
**The $2.5 million was pulled together thanks to a $1 million donation from the Industrial Development Authority of Maricopa County, $1 million from the Phoenix Industrial Development Authority, and $500,000 pulled together by United Way that included contributions from Arizona Community Foundation and Nina Mason Pulliam Trust. A special thanks to UMOM New Day Centers, A New Leaf, HOM, Inc. and Mercy House.