Mayor Jerry Weiers Homelessness

Mayor Jerry Weiers addresses the increasing homeless population on city streets.

Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers held a meeting April 25 with more than 50 members from the the West Valley’s faith-based communities to introduce leaders to a newly opened nonprofit.

Utilizing a network of churches and synagogues, Family Promise of Greater Phoenix rescues primarily first-time homeless families from the streets and provides emergency shelter and basic needs in a 60-day program designed to assist in their return to self-sufficiency.

“It was encouraging to see people from many denominations connecting on this extremely important issue facing our city,” Weiers said.

“The only way we are going to reduce homelessness is if we all work together.”

Representatives from more than 20 churches, the community services and police departments along with several nonprofit organizations attended the mayor’s meeting to learn how to connect with Family Promise as a resource to reduce family homelessness.

Family Promise Executive Director Ted Taylor told attendees the organization had planned to open a center in Glendale by 2020, but the need for a West Valley location and the positive reception that had been received allowed plans to be fast tracked. Family Promise opened last September.

By partnering with more than 40 interfaith congregations across the Valley, Family Promise provides safe overnight shelter, food and compassion to families in crisis. Services include case management, counseling and enrichment programs. 

Family Promise has been a national model since 1988, with more than 200,000 volunteers, resulting in more than 82% of families in the shelter program finding housing in less than nine weeks.

“I hope to continue moving forward with the goals and objectives that Joe Charles (former director of the Arizona Justice Center) has and bring the community together to end homelessness in the West Valley,” said David Buiten, the new director for the Arizona Justice Center. “Churches who have partnered with AZJC are part of an updated and expanded resource that we will update and expand for a resource guide we will provide.”

Additional speakers at the community meeting included Stephanie Small, Glendale’s community services director, who reviewed an update to the city’s homelessness plan that was presented to city council in January. Small also informed the attendees of the funding mechanisms provided through U.S. Housing and Urban Development, which are administered through the city of Glendale. One such resource is the city’s Community Action Program (CAP) office, which provides support services for individuals or families experiencing a financial hardship or major life crisis.

CAP provides various types of assistance to prevent homelessness, such as case management, information and referral to local social service agencies. The city CAP office also provides direct financial assistance for those households that are eligible, such as utility payment, utility deposit, mortgage payment to prevent foreclosure, and rent payment to prevent eviction.

Attendees also heard from Jannah Scott, partnership specialist with the U.S. Census Bureau, who presented information on the upcoming 2020 Census, including job availability and partnering with nonprofits on traditionally hard-to-count populations such as homeless individuals and families. Scott discussed the importance of building relationships and trust through various faith-based organizations, and sending a message that the information collected remains confidential.

Weiers vocalized the city’s focus on the upcoming 2020 Census, which will help determine how much of the nearly $700 billion in federal funding will be collected by the city.

Some of the issues Glendale is focusing on, according to Weiers, are public safety, street maintenance, Section 8 housing and supplemental nutrition assistance programs.

Weiers also updated attendees on the city’s new Glendale Works initiative introduced and approved by city council last year.

The program, which began earlier this year, offers homeless people day jobs at minimum wage and provides day work cleaning parks and right of ways throughout the city. Homeless individuals are also introduced to programs and resources to help them find housing.

Glendale Works is administered by Phoenix Rescue Mission and, as of March, has 126 unduplicated participants since its November launch. The program has been successful in participants finding jobs and receiving needed resources to move them from the street into self-sufficiency.

“Look, according to reports, 40% of homeless individuals want full-time jobs and want to get their lives back together and get off the streets,” Weiers said earlier this year about Glendale Works.

“If we can help 40% of homeless people get their lives back, this is a win, win, win, win for everyone involved.”