With the use of more than $700,000 in federal grant funds, Scottsdale is creating positive momentum in its efforts to assist residents facing homelessness.
Scottsdale City Council accepted Community Development Block Grant Coronavirus (CDBG-CV) funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development due to the federal CARES Act during a Sept. 22 meeting.
The CARES Act provided $5 billion for the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant program to cities and states that may be used to provide emergency housing and homelessness assistance.
One of the cities was Scottsdale, which accumulated $709,818 in funds.
“Of the $709,218 award for the City of Scottsdale CDBG-CV allocation, we have funded two CDBG public service activities,” said City of Scottsdale Housing Supervisor, Justin Boyd. “The Temporary Homeless Hotel Program and the Scottsdale New Faces Day Relief Center Collaboration.”
The Temporary Homeless Hotel Program allows 24 low or moderate income homeowners in Scottsdale who are experiencing homelessness to be provided temporary housing or shelter services. The Scottsdale New Faces Day Relief Center Collaboration offers a total of 60 low or moderate income homeowners to be provided day relief and wrap around services to persons experiencing homelessness.
According to Mr. Boyd, homelessness has always been a huge point of concern for the City of Scottsdale and throughout Arizona, but with the onset of COVID-19, it has only worsened.
“Homelessness has continued to create an increase not only in Scottsdale but throughout the Valley. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the issue,” said Mr. Boyd.
With hopes of providing for the homeless demographic, Scottsdale City Councilwoman, Solange Whitehead, is optimistic about what impact these funds will have on agencies that provide for the homeless and what difference they will make on how those agencies provide their services.
“Efficiency is huge. If people don’t have a shower or a place to sleep, it is very difficult for them to get back on their feet. So, getting people in a room with a shower and a bed is a giant step forward, which then enables all of our partner agencies to be that much more effective,” said Ms. Whitehead. “There are a lot of agencies that provide training, job opportunities, and even seek out and put people into permanent homes, but we, the government, are who can help put people in a position where they can tap into those resources.”
Not only have these funds had a seemingly positive impact on the agencies providing for the homeless but there has been a staggering increase in the number of people helped due to the funds.
According to Ms. Whitehead, these funds have caused there to be a 17% increase in the Food Box Program and a 1,400 increase in helping people with rent and mortgage payments.
Scottsdale Community Partners is just one of the agencies partnered with the City of Scottsdale, which has a Brown Bag Program that provides a weekly food bag to low-income seniors residing in Scottsdale.
Scottsdale Community Partners did not immediately respond to requests for comment at the time of publication.
With a positive outlook for the future, the City of Scottsdale is looking forward to seeing how these funds will help people suffering from homelessness and is hopeful that it will cause a decrease in the rising homeless population amid the pandemic.
“I am hoping that the CDBG-CV funds will have a significant impact on reducing homelessness in Scottsdale,” said Mr. Boyd. “The City of Scottsdale doesn’t usually receive stimulus dollars throughout the year so I am excited to be able to play a component in helping the community on a broader level with these additional funds.”
Editor’s Note: Gabriella Herran-Romero is a student reporter at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.