Phoenix voucher program designed to get chronically homeless off the streets

PHOENIX - Mike Yturralde welcomed ABC15 into his downtown Phoenix apartment Friday.

A nice brown couch and a small television sit in the front room and his bedroom has a modestly sized bed that he says feels like he's "sleeping on a cloud."

But it was a different story just few months ago.

"I'm not gonna lie to you and tell you it's been a smooth road," said Yturralde. "It hasn't, it's been rocky."

Yturralde has lived either on streets or at random homes for the past six years.

His addiction to alcohol got him fired from construction jobs that paid the bills.

But now, he's getting a second chance through the City of Phoenix.

He's one of 15 chronically homeless individuals who will get a permanent roof over their heads this year.

It's a part of a citywide voucher program that launched in December. It's all contingent on their conduct.

So if Yturralde is a nuisance at his complex, he can get kicked out. And an individual could also be up for review if the city sees any issues as far as progress goes.

He's the third person to get a voucher.

"We're not looking for people who are going to come in and then they're gonna go back to the streets," said Libby Bissa with the City of Phoenix who's in charge of the overseeing the program.

Southwest Behavioral Health has a big role in their transformation. They find apartments, provide furniture and teach daily classes ranging from substance abuse help, to job training courses. 

Liza Ramirez, who has worked with Yturralde for years, will monitor his progress for the city. She hopes he will finally put his words into action.

"He said he was willing to do something different. I mean, that was the open. I mean, that was the open door for me," said Ramirez.

Yturralde hopes to take advantage of the opportunity.

"(Southwest Beahvorial Health) didn't give up on me. I'm still here, I'm still blessed," said Yturralde.

The city plans to continue the program through 2016, with 15 vouchers being awarded to individuals each year.

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