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Battling homelessness in Arizona during a pandemic

Posted at 11:02 PM, Feb 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-05 01:02:23-05

New emergency shelter beds have been approved for downtown Phoenix, to help those experiencing homelessness. Part of the money raised during ABC15’s telethon with Central Arizona Shelter Services will go toward that.

"These last three years, a little over three years, that I've have been homeless. But I'm not homeless any more thanks to CASS,” says Stanley Bamber, receiving services through CASS.

62-year-old Stanley Bamber is staying at a hotel with a 90-day voucher. He, like so many others, is hoping to be placed in permanent housing.

“It's too much money to even go in to get an apartment today. It’s crazy with the back rent. You have to make two times the amount of the rent. Everything is crazy,” says Bamber.

But, more help is coming. Phoenix City Council just greenlighted hundreds of new shelter beds at the CASS shelter and on the Human Services Campus.

"At CASS, we'll be able to move really quickly by this summer to scale up to about 600 and, get more people off the streets because we are in a serious crisis and it was really time to take action,” says Lisa Glow, Central Arizona Shelter Services.

It’s a crisis that is worsening due to the pandemic. That is one reason why ABC15 partnered with CASS in a telethon last week, with tens of thousands of dollars raised by our viewers in just three hours. The money will be used in several different ways.

“To help deal with the pandemic crisis so we can serve more people but also, as we expand with new beds (now that we have approval to add more beds at CASS) those dollars will help us to operate,” says Glow.

Senior citizens are the fastest-growing population of becoming homeless. The production show that will continue to get worse. A temporary facility was opened up just for seniors during the pandemic, CASS hopes the money raised can also go toward making that permanent.

“These beds are a good first step,” says Glow.

It’s laying a foundation to get more Arizonans back on their feet.

"Even though I'm 62 years old, I am trying... I'm going to do this, I'm not trying to do it... prove it to myself, and I'm gonna go finish and get my GED,” says Bamber.