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Maricopa County

County approves $4.68M in deal extension for homeless help

St. Vincent de Paul will work on program


Maricopa county and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul reached amended an agreement to help the homeless, adding a significant new expense running through the next five years.

Under the agreement, the county will provide St. Vincent de Paul with $4.68 million for services to homeless individuals from Nov. 1 through Jan. 31, 2025. In addition, the deal authorized up to $173,294 in monthly expenses.
The addition to the contract, which began in 2021, will bring the total the county has spent in funds with St. Vincent de Paul to roughly $7.6 million, county documents stated.

Funding for this contract will be sourced from the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds. This was federally created in March 2021 to battle ongoing and future issues related to COVID-19. The funds have delivered more than $350 billion to state, local, and tribal governments.

The agreement calls for St. Vincent de Paul, 2739 E. Washington St., to provide a variety of services including, “meals, laundry and clothing services, support case conferencing efforts and connecting individuals to needed services and housing.”

Jessica Berg, chief program director for St. Vincent de Paul, said the city of Phoenix gave the organization permission to use the East Washington location, which was slated to be used for the city’s aviation department. Berg said she is grateful for the support.

“As long as it’s needed I hope it can remain open,” she said. “It’s very resourced by the city and county, so that we can serve the folks in need rather then raising money.”

As of last Friday, the organization served 500 guests from its Washington street shelter. With a total of 416 exits, Berg said 342 of those found some form of housing while some may still may face housing issues.

“That may mean reunification of family or that could be another bridge program. 30 of those guests sought treatment or some folks go to a nursing home, 56 have gone to permanent housing, and 45% are still experiencing chronic homeless,” she said.

The organization has operated in Arizona since 1946. Its services include charity dining rooms that serve thousands each day, food boxes for hungry families, housing and shelter, and general assistance for families and individuals living in poverty.

The shelter on Washington was created May 13 in a partnership between the city and Maricopa County, and operated by the society. The original intent for the shelter was to provide safe housing against high temperatures during the summer. Roughly five weeks after opening, it reached its 200-person capacity. They provide three kinds of housing: transitional older adult housing, Washington street shelter for long-term housing, and periodic weather relief shelter.

The shelter provides assigned beds, private lockers, security officers, meals, and case workers. The case workers help guests find more permanent forms of housing as well as provide guests with mental health care.

According to its website, they have housed more than 36,800 individuals a year with a rate of 95% of guests staying housed six months later. The organization also provides emergency shelter for the summer for 5,175 people for the summer of 2021.

Berg stated another transitional housing for older adults will open in six months and is planned to provide an additional 100 guest housing as well as companion animal clinic.