Arizona organization offers new hope for homeless, at-risk families seeking shelter

PHOENIX - The number of homeless families far exceeds available shelters, so the people who sleep in the park could be the same ones who play there.

Darlene Newsom's job as CEO of UMOM New Day Centers is to help those families get back into stable situations with permanent housing. 

"We know in Maricopa County that every week there are 50 new families that enter into homelessness," Newsom said.

In an effort to more conveniently serve homeless families, UMOM joined several agencies to create the Family Housing Hub.

"It's one door that homeless families can go through to get assistance," Newsom said.

Now serving about a thousand families a year, hub workers do a full assessment on a family's needs. About 30 percent of clients get immediate help with an affordable apartment, but help has to wait for the rest.

"The wait to come into emergency shelter is anywhere from three weeks to four months, depending on the family size and what their circumstances are," Newsom said.

Newsom says the Valley has shelter space for 150 families, but the wait list is more than 160 families. That leaves some families in very uncomfortable situations.

"Usually families double to triple up with a friend in their apartment," Newsom said. "About 20 to 30 families at any given time are living in the streets, in their cars, in the tent."

As places like UMOM look for new funding and options, Newsom has a message to families on the edge:  "There's no shame in asking for help."
 

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