PHOENIX — On Tuesday the Phoenix City Council unanimously voted to spend nearly $27 million to combat homelessness. The money will target those on the street as well as provide a safety net for hundreds of others who remain vulnerable.
Lisa Glow, the CEO of Central Arizona Shelter Services told the city council CASS is at or near capacity every day. "The demand for more shelter beds has never been greater," she said. “And given COVID we have to move quickly."
Phoenix plans to move quickly. Using a one time federal grant helping cities deal with the impact of COVID-19, Phoenix will use the money to subsidize rents for eligible Section 8 renters, provide housing for homeless seniors, veterans, families and other single adults.
"One of the cruel parts of COVID-19 is those who were vulnerable before face even greater challenges now," Mayor Kate Gallego said.
Phoenix's homeless population grew by 18% from January 2019 to January 2020. More than 2,300 people live without shelter. While the money dedicated just to help the homeless is substantial, it only goes so far.
"When you look at the total number of people on the list by population in the city of Phoenix, we're proposing helping 40%," Assistant City Manager Deanna Jonovich said.
Funds are also being set aside to provide loans and grants to small businesses and the non-profit groups which serve the homeless community.
"The city council will continue to fight against homelessness and for affordable housing," the mayor said. "We know the challenges we face continue but I'm proud of our first steps forward."