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 Homeless get chance at housing in Phoenix 
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 Homeless get chance at housing in Phoenix
By Lesley WrightThe Republic | azcentral.comMon Apr 22, 2013 10:27 AM

A few seconds after David Hartnett opened the door to his new studio apartment, he broke down.

It was just before Christmas. Hartnett, 40, had been living on the streets for more than 25 years when he was accepted into a program that social-service experts say could end chronic homelessness.

Hartnett has vowed that Housing First, a federal strategy designed to provide housing before arranging social services, will end his homeless days for good.

“When I first walked in, I cried,” he said. “It was just the concept that I can walk into my own house, have something to eat, have a place to lay my head.”

In Phoenix and around the country, groups that serve the homeless have embraced this approach. Experts say this has helped reduce homelessness among the people who are hardest to help: single men and women who have cycled in and out of shelters for years, even decades.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates there are 633,782 homeless people in the U.S and more than 6,000 homeless people in metro Phoenix. About 15 to 20 percent in metro Phoenix are chronically homeless, experts said.

Housing First programs are different because traditionally, chronically homeless people would have to conquer the problems that forced them to live on the streets, such as addiction, childhood trauma or undiagnosed mental illness.

Housing First programs allow them to begin repairing their lives in the safety of their own apartments, while they use support services such as therapy and 12-step programs.

Housing First programs are less expensive than temporary shelters, and they free up space for other needy people, non-profits said.

“This program is the opposite of what’s been done before,” said John Wall of the non-profit Arizona Housing Inc.


Affordable housing is a cheaper alternative to emergency shelters, advocates said. Even when the affordable apartment complexes offer 24-hour security and a range of on-site social services, they consume only about two-thirds of the funds needed for emergency shelter services.

The emergency shelter spends about $700 per person each month, said Craig Tribken, a former Phoenix City councilman and spokesperson for CASS. Excluding the cost of acquiring the buildings, CASS spends about $500 per unit per month at the affordable housing complexes. Those services include on-site management, activities, 12-step meetings, computers, an on-site veterans office and employment services.

Hartnett takes advantage of most of those services at his new home in Collins Court Apartments in Phoenix, one of four apartment complexes acquired by Arizona Housing Inc., the housing non-profit affiliated with CASS.

Arizona Housing purchased the property on North 33rd Avenue in 2010. The non-profit gathered $1.3 million in grants and nearly $4 million in federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds to buy the foreclosure property and rehabilitate it. The complex offers “supportive housing” in 80 apartment units for about 200 formerly homeless people.

In Phoenix, Arizona Housing has bought and rehabilitated three apartment complexes. A fourth will open soon and bring the total number of units up to 540. The goal is to have 1,000 units, said Wall, the non-profit’s supportive-housing director.

The housing group was actually helped by the recession, which caused prices for apartment complexes to plummet. That is no longer the case, making the acquisition of new buildings more difficult, Wall said.

At Collins Court, Hartnett pays no direct rent, subsisting on disability and public-housing rental vouchers. But if he does find a job, he will contribute 30 percent of his earnings to housing.

In the meantime, he said, he is seeing a doctor, a therapist and social workers. His work, he said, consists of facing the consequences of years of depression and trauma from a tough childhood and decades of living on the streets, dealing drugs, drinking and contemplating suicide.

“It’s a comfort for me to be able to focus on the issues that have caused me to be homeless instead of being homeless and just trying to survive,” Hartnett said.


Read more here:

This may not really go in this topic but it was difficult for me to find a really good place for it.

This article gives me great hope and makes me ask why my city isn't doing the same?


The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. - FDR

Fri Jul 26, 2013 1:21 pm
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Post Re: Homeless get chance at housing in Phoenix
It's about Time Too! :rant :flame :flame :flame


Fri Jul 26, 2013 2:21 pm
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