Phoenix City Council unanimously agreed to give $10.5 million to support homeless veterans after U.S. Vets Phoenix Executive Director Michelle Jameson said her organization no longer had the money to pay rent at their Grand Avenue facility, which is currently housing 170 veterans.
The U.S. Vets Phoenix organization works to house veterans experiencing homelessness as well as helping them overcome any problems they face with securing housing, Jameson said. The organization helps homeless veterans find jobs, obtain benefits, get help with mental health problems, and other services.
Jameson said the new shelter will offer transitional housing as well as more permanent housing for veterans. She’s hoping the new property will allow 50 to 70 additional units for homeless veterans in the central Phoenix area.
Jameson said she has plans for some type of senior care in the shelter as well to target aging veterans specifically the Vietnam veteran population in Phoenix. The shelter will be just outside of downtown, located conveniently near a Veterans Affairs clinic, as well as a major bus line, said Jameson.
Jameson said she hopes the shelter will be open between February and March of 2021, but U.S. Vets Phoenix is still in the planning process. The $10.5 million given by the City of Phoenix will be used entirely to purchase the facility according to Jameson.
She said she appreciates all the community support, especially those who volunteer with U.S. Vets Phoenix.
“Community support is always encouraged and appreciated,” said Jameson. “Our veterans need to know they are supported during this time as well.”
U.S. Vets Phoenix coordinates with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs when deciding if their program is appropriate for each individual veteran’s needs, but emergency lodging is offered as well. When the facility is at capacity, said Jameson, vets are placed temporarily in hotel rooms.
Due to the huge support from the City of Phoenix and the community, U.S. Vets Phoenix hasn’t seen a slow in the number of veterans they can house and help due to COVID, according to Jameson.
“Any veteran that is on the street and needs housing or shelter has the availability due to this CARES funding,” Jameson said.
Jeanine L’Ecuyer, director of communications for Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, said the $10.5 million is a reallocation of money from the federal government’s CARES Act, which provided $293 million as a coronavirus relief fund.
L’Ecuyer said the allotment for homeless veterans was an opportunity for Phoenix to do something significant for those in need.
“Everybody would also like to see state and county also get involved in this,” L’Ecuyer said.
L’Ecuyer said that the state and county have seemed to have some interest in supporting homeless veterans and hopes they will do more.
Phoenix residents have mixed feelings about the City of Phoenix allocating this money to U.S. Vets Phoenix.
Bob Dalpe, Chandler resident and member of the AZ Veterans Resource Network on Facebook, thinks the City of Phoenix is supporting and donating money to the U.S. Vets Phoenix is a great idea.
“Homeless veterans need additional resources to combat the challenges they face on the streets,” Dalpe said.
Dalpe has observed local community members being concerned with the expansion of homeless shelters in downtown Phoenix. He said community members want more resources and support for homeless veterans in Phoenix.
Dalpe is happy the city is getting more involved with homeless veterans and believes the new facility will be a great help to those on the streets.
Others are worried about how involved the City of Phoenix truly wants to be with veteran homelessness.
Ryan Starzyk, a Phoenix resident and retired veteran, believes the $10.5 million given by the city of Phoenix is not enough money.
Starzyk says veteran homelessness and homelessness in general in downtown Phoenix is such a big issue that $10.5 million won’t be enough to help veterans as much as they need.
Starzyk sees the $10.5 million as a good start to helping homeless veterans but he fears Phoenix politicians will move on from veteran homelessness now that they’ve allocated money to help them.
This article was originally posted by Downtown Devil, found here.