Looking for a better way for your family, friends or ward members to help people experiencing homelessness?
The Healthy Giving Council of Phoenix would like to help you help the homeless. The council consists of neighborhood residents, currently and formerly homeless individuals, faith groups, nonprofit agencies, and officials from the City of Phoenix and Maricopa County.
When good-hearted people give food and other items directly to people who are homeless, they may not realize they are drawing them away from resources best equipped to truly assist them. Many receivers have serious needs not solved by disconnected relationships and well-intended handouts from passing cars.
The Healthy Giving Council seeks to bridge this gap at the Human Services Campus in downtown Phoenix at 204 S. 12th Avenue. Numerous charitable agencies, including St. Vincent de Paul, Circle the City, and Lodestar Day Resource Center, are represented here.
Elder C. Dale Willis, Jr., an Area Seventy whose assignment includes LDS Public Affairs for the Metro Phoenix area, recently offered a statement regarding this challenging situation. He said, “[T]he City of Phoenix and its charitable partners have asked the Church and others to help them spread the word, kindly asking caring people to direct their donations of time and material goods to a charity of their choice, instead of directly to the homeless on the streets…. Last year during the holidays, many generous people drove to downtown Phoenix on their own initiative and passed out food, clothing and gifts to the homeless. You might be surprised to know how much of it was dropped and left behind to spoil and pile up on the streets, creating major health, safety and garbage problems for the police and other responders.”
Phoenix cannot keep up with the paper, plastic, Styrofoam and unused food left on the streets after handouts are given, particularly on weekends.
Furthermore, the homeless are among the most vulnerable populations. Meeting with professionals and addressing issues can be uncomfortable, and some homeless people will avoid it as long as they can get by on donations—a situation that just prolongs their homelessness.
The Campus hopes to alleviate these issues of waste and cyclical vagrancy. “We have a goal to end homelessness,” states Marc Landry, Campus Head of Security and member of the Chandler West Stake. “From a client’s standpoint, we have everything they need. It’s a safe environment. The clients are safe; the volunteers are safe. Everybody wins.”
Steve Davis, Campus Director of Development, adds, “We have several states coming to visit us as a national model.” He adds, “We have a great working relationship with the Phoenix Police Department.”
The Campus welcomes almost 1,000 homeless clients each day for 20 different services, such as job training. St. Joseph the Worker, one onsite agency, helped 3,900 people find employment in 2017.
Assistance is available for substance addiction, mental health issues, and benefits applications. Physical and dental healthcare are also offered. Soon a 50-bed respite center will be added for those at the facing end-of-life circumstances.
The Campus’s main shelter sleeps about 470 single individuals each night, and an overflow area can house an additional 250.
An onsite urban farm grows fresh fruit and vegetables that are then prepared in the commercial kitchen and served as part of many of the three meals provided every day to approximately 600 individuals.
Any homeless person may receive food at the Campus welcome gate and a place to sleep in the overflow shelter. Across the street, another partnering agency, Foothills Community Services’ The Bridge, sets up in a parking lot and provides breakfast and clean-up on Sundays. Dietary restrictions of clients with diabetes and other concerns can be professionally handled at the Campus.
Homeless clients can register for a campus I.D. card, develop relationships of trust, and receive help that can change the trajectory of their lives.