PHOENIX — Winning a $1 million lottery sounds like a dream for anyone falling on hard times. For some local organizations, it was a dream turned into a reality as the Arizona Lottery made it possible.
The Arizona Lottery is mandated, through legislature, to fund the Arizona Department of Economic Security $1 million every year.
The department works directly with families and organizations to ensure safety and economic stability through services such as shelter, cash, and food assistance.
The growing number of homeless and at-risk populations in need of services are subject to benefit from these funds.
DES disbursed different amounts for several local organizations that help the homeless. According to the Homeless Services Lottery Fund report, three Maricopa County organizations received over 65% of the total money. Two organizations in Pima County received the remaining amount.
A New Leaf is one of the organizations that was able to receive money from this yearly lottery funding through the department of economic security.
In 2021, A New Leaf received $180,000 of the $1 million to help deliver services to the community. The organization provides services for homeless individuals in addition to victims of domestic violence, which both had an increasing number in recent years.
The funding of this organization allowed for more families to be helped when it came to seeking shelter and safety for those affected.
Laura Bode, director of communications with A New Leaf, works directly with organizations and community groups to build awareness about their services.
“We do the majority of our fundraising for shelter and domestic violence services, that’s where we see more gaps in what government funding can provide.” Bode said. “Organizations like A New Leaf are doing a lot of work around supporting domestic violence victims, but we need our community support to do that” she said.
The department of economic security is just one of many recipients the Arizona Lottery is mandated to fund through legislative action.
“With the exception of ’09, every year from ’08 we’ve transferred a million dollars, totaling $13 million," said John Gilliland with the Arizona Lottery. “We’ve taken in a lot more than that, we’ve transferred a lot more than that over the years to other agencies, but $13 million is still a lot."
The yearly funds the department of economic security receives as a beneficiary cannot solve every problem, as the need for services is also affecting those who are working the cases themselves.
Brett Bezio, a representative with DES says, “providers have also experienced staff turnover and struggle to fill key staff positions, such as case managers. Because of this, most shelters have not returned to pre-pandemic bed capacity.”
From 2020 to 2022, there was a 34% increase in the number of unsheltered individuals according to the Maricopa Association of Government’s Point-In-Time count.
In addition to the lack of bed space availability, according to the Sojourner Center, “Arizona ranks fourth nationally in the female domestic violence rate.”
Community awareness and funding has allowed these organizations to successfully help those in need.
DES will receive another transfer of funds from the Arizona Lottery when the 2022 fiscal year ends on June 30.
Laura Bode, Director of Communication at A New Leaf (480) 276-1870
Brett Bezio, PIO for AZ DES, email@example.com
John Gilliland, PIO at Arizona Lottery firstname.lastname@example.org
Maricopa County Attorney’s Office website, Domestic Violence page
Sojourner Center website, facts about domestic violence