The city of Scottsdale and Phoenix Rescue Mission are celebrating a successful first month of Scottsdale Works – Brick by Brick, an integrated workforce development program that aims to reduce homelessness in Scottsdale and put the city’s homeless to work.
The Scottsdale Works participants have been working with Phoenix Rescue Mission and the Scottsdale Human Services Department’s Brick by Brick social enterprise program since the beginning of last December to produce an adobe-like earthen brick called compressed earth block.
The CEB is used by the city for capital projects and, in coordination with other regional partners, to build energy efficient CEB tiny homes with and for people experiencing homelessness, according to a press release.
In the first 30 days, the program has surpassed expectations and has changed the lives of many individuals, the press release stated.
Since launching, more than a dozen participants have taken part in the workforce program, completing a total of 60, five-hour shifts.
“This program has been a blessing to both the participants and the community because people are getting connected to resources to end their homelessness,” said Phoenix Rescue Mission Street Outreach Supervisor Gabe Priddy.
One individual, Jason Smith, recently received keys to his first home since his life on the streets began in the mid-1990s.
Mr. Smith found work with Scottsdale’s program, which instilled in him a sense of worth and gave him hope that he could end his cycle of homelessness after all.
Meanwhile, his Phoenix Rescue Mission case manager, Reese Miller, who saw the change in Mr. Smith take place, was working in the background with several organizations and the city to find a home for him with furnishings. They succeeded and welcomed Mr. Smith into his new home with a birthday celebration.
Phoenix Rescue Mission staff have assisted in acquiring several birth certificates and Social Security cards for participants, the press release stated.
Government documents are often a major barrier for homeless individuals.
Without proper documents, many of these individuals are forced to go to the streets, either panhandling or even committing crimes.
This program has enabled many participants to navigate the process of obtaining proper paperwork, so they can find legitimate work.
Scottsdale Works staff members also have helped participants connect with resources to pay off back fines against their driver’s licenses, ultimately expanding the types of jobs that are now available to that person.
In addition to success stories, staff continues to build relationships with participants, so they can help them get to the root of why they continue to fall back to the streets.
Funded in part by the city, the program is designed to locate homeless individuals, pick them up from a set location and give them the opportunity to earn real wages and connect with services. Phoenix Rescue Mission has contracted with the city for the service projects and is responsible for engaging potential participants to perform the work, which includes five-hour work shifts for a daily cash rate of $60.
After their shift, program participants receive a meal and transportation. Subsequently, participants interested in changing their life situation can connect with a Phoenix Rescue Mission case manager who will work with them to receive behavior health services, job preparedness training, healthcare, housing opportunities and other potential resources.
“We’ve spent several years refining our Will Work program, which is the foundation of Scottsdale Works and can be scaled for any city, no matter the city’s size or situation,” said Phoenix Rescue Mission Chief Program Officer Nathan Smith.
“Since we first launched it in Glendale, we’ve touched the lives of many individuals by taking them off the streets, not only offering them real work, but also the resources to end their life on the streets. As a result, we have also seen a higher quality of life for the residents, business owners and entire Glendale community. In fact, earlier this year, when the county announced its 2020 homeless Point-In-Time count, Glendale was one of only a few cities of more than 25 in the Valley to have seen a decrease in homelessness — and Glendale saw the sharpest decrease. With the help of this initiative, we hope to see similar results in Scottsdale in the coming months.”
Phoenix Rescue Mission is also partnering with the cities of Peoria, Goodyear, Avondale and Glendale on similar public-private programs that address food insecurity, homeless outreach, crime and other social issues.
For more information, please visit www.PhoenixRescueMission.org.