Phoenix veterans have hope for a home in Phoenix, Arizona. The city has housed those identified as homeless since Thursday. Mayor Greg Stanton has performed this feat within only months of announcing that it was the intention of Phoenix lawmakers to house those veterans identified as chronically homeless. “This milestone accomplishment is the result of will, strategy and perseverance,” Stanton said.
Three years ago ,the Arizona Coalition to end Homelessness started the process to end chronic homelessness among veterans. At that time, the state identified 222 veterans living in Phoenix. The average length of homelessness was eight years. Last month, 56 remained, but a $100,000 allocation by the Phoenix City Council, which was made by a unanimous vote, allowed the city to house them all as of Wednesday. Thus, Phoenix won a friendly competition with Utah’s Salt Lake City to become the first U.S. city to do so.
Stanton was able to push for financing to provide these homes, along with federal grants of up to $6.5 million which could have been allocated to any civic issue. President Obama praised Phoenix officials for their dedication to local veterans, many of whom served in Vietnam.
Since 2010, it has been reported that US veterans who are homeless has declined 24 percent across the country, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. Despite these inroads to housing our veterans, other numbers suggest that there are still close to 57,849 homeless veterans nationwide. Eight percent of those counted were women.
The Arizona Coalition to End Homelessness has become a leader in the effort to end homelessness of vets through advocacy, education and coordination with local communities. Their special initiative, Project H3 Vets, has been the cornerstone of the progress to care for those who served in the military.
As a part of Arizona’s efforts to identify homeless veterans, they have adopted a count. The 2014 Point-In-Time (PIT) Homeless Street Count is a nighttime count to come up with the number of people who are experiencing homelessness during a given point-in-time. Volunteers to assess these numbers have been requested through the Arizona coalition’s website. By being assured of the numbers, Phoenix veterans have a better hope for a home in their city.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development, (HUD), and the Veterans Association, (VA), have awarded grants to local city groups addressing the issue. In July, for example, it was announced that 300 community projects would be funded at the tune of $300 million. HUD and the VA provided the impetus for a city like Phoenix to take care of resident veterans.
Phoenix tackled the problem, as more than fifty percent of homeless veterans live in Maricopa County. That makes the accomplishment of the city to house their veterans an even more impressive victory.
Since Phoenix, and Arizona in general, have been targeted as not being quite the caring state it could be, mainly due to immigration issues, the ability for the city council to see the goal through to the end has been seen as a refreshing change of pace. Stanton has stated that he wishes Phoenix to be a role-model for other states to use as an example in their own homeless veterans projects.
As for local veterans of Maricopa County, Phoenix, Arizona, they have hope for a home.
By Lisa M Pickering