Phoenix homeless outreach: Is the PHX C.A.R.E.S. program working?

Posted at 6:41 AM, Apr 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-09 11:57:30-04

Five months after its inception, the PHX C.A.R.E.S. homeless outreach program is looking for more money to expand.

A community tip line helps outreach teams find and identify homeless individuals or camps and then tries to connect them with social services.

The program reports nearly 1,200 calls in just the first three months with consistent numbers in the months that followed. Those tips helped identify 500 encampments in the city -- about half on private properties.

PHX C.A.R.E.S. has committed to responding to those tips in three business days determining if clean-up crews are needed, if police need to assist in relocating or serving warrants, and the ultimate goal is to connect people with help. Those services to help range from shelter needs, mental health care, obtaining identification cards and permanent housing.

Currently, 17 teams of two people respond to the calls but Human Services Director Marchelle Franklin says sometimes they need to make contact with individuals as many as five times before that person will accept help, and with the homeless constantly on the move, keeping up with demand is a challenge. However, she says it does make a difference. 

"It's a small step in creating programs that can address the homeless issues," said Franklin. 

The program is seeking enough money to pay for six more people -- four to add to outreach teams, two to help triage the calls that come from the community and better streamline the response. 

To date, 399 cases have been referred to the Human Services Department and community service partners, 277 individuals have accepted help and 10 percent have moved into permanent housing.

The budget recommendations will be voted on by the Phoenix City Council on May 22nd.