The Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) and the Regional Collaborative on Homelessness developed 14 regional strategies to address homelessness. The strategies were adopted by the MAG Regional Council in May. The next step is to develop an action plan that provides a range of solutions that can be implemented in communities.
“We have had frequent, productive dialogues and taken action over the past year to build the collaborative resources needed to address the increasing rates of homelessness in our region,” said MAG Chair Jerry Weiers, mayor of Glendale. “Regional homelessness strategies were identified after extensive outreach and research. The purpose of the Capstone event is to begin creating an action plan to put the strategies to work. Our goal is to build bridges across diverse sectors for a multidisciplinary response to homelessness.”
Among the speakers at the event will be a man who has lived through homelessness. “We should all remain grateful for the blessings in our life. Most of us are only a few tragic hardships away from experiencing homelessness ourselves,” says Trevor Southwick. “At 18 years old, I had all the things I thought I wanted and needed. I had my own place, was attending college on a scholarship and had a great job working for a bank, but regrettable decisions led me down a dark path into addiction and homelessness. Fortunately, there are many amazing resources out there designed to help people like me overcome these barriers so that we can succeed. There is always hope. No matter how bad things became, I never gave up, and neither should you.”
The adopted regional strategies cover topics ranging from diversion/prevention, housing, coordination, services, and temporary housing. Not all strategies will be implemented by all communities — each community will choose an approach based on the community’s priorities and resources.
Just as communities are supporting the regional efforts in different ways, community partners are doing so as well. Some partners like the Urban Land Institute bring housing experts and developers to the table, while others like the Black Chamber of Arizona bring the perspective of business as well as racial equity. Valley of the Sun United Way has just released its own five-year strategic plan.
“We are deeply committed to addressing homelessness in this region,” says Carla Vargas Jasa, president and CEO of Valley of the Sun United Way, who will speak at the event. “We will invest our funding, time and expertise to ensure all people have a safe place to call home. By 2026, we are striving to reduce homelessness by 50 percent. We look forward to partnering with MAG and the communities to achieve this mighty goal.”
The forum is co-hosted by partners in diverse fields such as business, housing, faith, and the nonprofit community. The outreach forum series was developed by MAG and the Regional Collaborative on Homelessness. Partners include the Arizona Housing Coalition, Arizona State University (ASU) Action Nexus, MAG, Maricopa County Human Services Department, Valley of the Sun United Way, and Vitalyst Health Foundation. Arizona Town Hall is sharing its expertise in facilitation, recording, and reporting for this forum.
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