The Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) released the data today from it’s 2022 Point-in-Time (PIT) Homeless Count. The PIT Count is an annual street and shelter count to determine the number of people experincing homelessness in Maricopa County during a given point in time, as part of a national effort to identify the extent of homelessness nationwide. The numbers reflect a two-year increase, since the 2021 count was not conducted due to the COVID pandemic.
The pandemic strained economies worldwide. In our community, it resulted in the loss of jobs that hit low-wage earners particularly hard, putting them at greater risk of experiencing homelessness. Rising housing costs in the region also make more people vulnerable to homelessness. According to the PIT Homeless Count, the number of people experiencing homelessness within the City of Phoenix was 3,096. Due to the Covid-19 Crisis and the rise in housing and rental prices, the City of Phoenix anticipated an increase in homelessness and has taken steps to help mitigate the situation.
This fiscal year, the City dedicated nearly $50 million for homelessness soultions to provide shelters, rapid rehousing, outreach and mental health services through partnerships with various community organizations and nonprofits.
Shelters: $27.9 million.
A Sprung Strucutre is currently being constructed on the Human Services Campus (HSC) which will add 100 new beds and additional restrooms in the area. That project is expected to be complete in mid-March 2022. The City of Phoenix also funded 175 new beds at Central Arizona Shelter Services (CASS). Additional funding provides an emergency crisis shelter for families at Chicanos Por La Causa, a shelter for veterans with 145 rooms, an emergency shelter for vulnerable seniors as well as COVID-19 emergency shelters.
Rapid Rehousing: $4.7 million.
The City of Phoenix contracted with community partners CASS, A New Leaf, Inc. & UMOM to provide COVID-19 Rapid Rehousing for families, single women & single men. The City also contracted with Community Bridges, Inc. (CBI) for Rapid Rehousing bridge support and Native American Connections (NAC) for Rapid Rehousing support for youth.
Outreach Services: $8.3 million.
The City of Phoenix prioritizes leading with services when it comes to those experiencing homelessness and recognizes that there are unique populations that require specialized services to best meet their needs. The City provides outreach and engagement services for persons experiencing homelessness through contracts with various community partners. Services include veteran navigation & coordination services, navigation & wraparound services for justice-involved individuals, COVID-19 support for seniors experiencing homelessness and COVID-19 related homelessness prevention. Community partners include CBI, HSC, Southwest Behavioral & Health Services (SWBH), Justa Center, U.S. Vets, Homeward Bound, and Phoenix Rescue Mission.
Mental Health Services: $9 million.
The City of Phoenix has a tentative contract with Mercy Care, set to begin on or about April 2022, to provide mental health services for people experiencing homelessness.
Preventing the loss of housing through eviction prevention is a priority in the City of Phoenix. The U.S. Treasury has allocated 106 million dollars to the City of Phoenix for Emergency Rental Assistance to prevent residents from losing their homes. $51.1 million was allocated to begin ERA 1.0 on March 8, 2021. All ERA 1.0 program funds were disbursed as of January 2022. The Treasury allocated $55.3 million for ERA 2.0, the City began disbursement of those funds in October 2021. To date, $66,060,002 in rental assistance has been disbursed.
Additionally, through a partnership with Community Legal Services, the city created the Tenants Eviction Assistance Project (TEAP). TEAP provides no-cost legal assistance to residents experiencing an eviction crisis, including working cooperatively with local agencies administering COVID-19 related rental and utility assistance programs for the City of Phoenix, Maricopa County, and the state of Arizona.
Affordable Housing Initiatives:
The City of Phoenix operates 1,567 public housing units, administers more than 7,000 Housing Choice Vouchers, and provides 1,200 housing units to seniors. The follow are several of the City’s major affordable housing initiatives:
Housing Phoenix Plan: The Housing Phoenix plan was adopted by the Mayor & City Council in 2020 to continue to explore innovative and effective strategies to continue to provide critical affordable housing for the community. It set the goal of creating or preserving 50,000 homes by 2030. Through December 2021, 23,090 units have been created or preserved.
New affordable housing creation: The City of Phoenix invested approximately $5.8 million to develop 126 new affordable single-family detached homes for low- and moderate-income homebuyers in South Phoenix Village (SPV).
Landlord Incentive Program: The City of Phoenix provided $500,000 in incentives to landlords for accepting vouchers, with another $1 million in the pipeline. 570 landlords have received incentive payments for executing 1,297 Housing Assistance Payments (HAP) contracts. On Feb 16, 2022, City Council approved increasing the incentive payments to $2,000.
Housing Rehabilitation Program: The City of Phoenix Invested nearly $2.5 million to preserve 164 affordable homes, with an average per home investment of nearly $15,000 in 2021 alone.
Down payment assistance: The City of Phoenix worked to support low-income, first-time homebuyers by selling 299 homes from the City of Phoenix public housing portfolio.
HOME Investment Partnership Program: The City of Phoenix’s distribution of HOME funds has been successful in delivering approximately 6,300 affordable housing units, with 1,200 underway today.
The City of Phoenix unifies community partners and resources to respond to neighborhoods and businesses impacted by homelessness with education and services. If you have questions or concerns about a homelessness issue in your neighborhood, you are encouraged to report it to PHX C.A.R.E.S. by calling 602-262-6251 or fill out a report here.