April 27, 2016 –
Organizations at ASU and shelters throughout the Phoenix area are doing their part in assisting the homeless population.
According to the Department of Economic Security, an estimated 36,497 people in Maricopa Countyreceived services in emergency shelter, transitional housing and permanent supportive housing programs in 2015.
To serve this large population of people, the following organizations on campus and throughout Phoenix offer services and shelter.
The Invisible Initiative
“Our mission is to create awareness of the issue of youth experiencing homelessness, to improve and increase resource accessibility, and to gather funds and basic hygiene materials to provide comfortable temporary housing for affected individuals,” Mahnoor Mukarram, founder and president of the Invisible Initiative, said.
Mukarram said the organization stemmed from The Leadership Scholarship Program‘s 2015 Cohort’s Social Change Project.
“Every year, the Cohort must work on one project, and my Cohort addressed homelessness,” she said. “I wanted to make the project more concrete, and so with the help of fellow Cohort members, I decided to start this club.”
Mukarram said she and her fellow Cohort members renovated the Tumbleweed Center for Youth Development in Phoenix and provided the residents with new furniture and supplies.
The Invisible Initiative also held a back to school essentials, food and hygiene product drive at the start of the spring 2016 semester.
“The primary service that Andre House provides is the dinner service,” said Therese Barnhart, director of volunteer services and communications of Andre House — a ministry in downtown Phoenix assisting the homeless.
However, their services extend far past just food.
“We serve the evening meal six nights a week,” Barnhart said. “In addition to dinner, we provide showers five days a week; a laundry service four days a week; a clothing closet four days a week; office hours six days a week where our guests can make a phone call, get hygiene items, use the restroom and receive blankets; and we serve breakfast on Saturday and Sunday mornings.”
Andre House also has a weekly faith sharing group that meets on Wednesday mornings and legal services available every other Tuesday morning, Barnhart said.
“Andre House welcomes each guest as he or she is, provides for their basic needs and recognizes the dignity of each person who walks through our doors,” Barnhart said.
She said the education on the issue of homelessness is important, noting that anyone interested in the issue should get involved with the Arizona Coalition to End Homelessness, both organizations that work to address the issue through education, advocacy and special projects.
Central Arizona Shelter Services
Central Arizona Shelter Services is the largest emergency shelter provider for single adults with 470 beds — 350 beds for men and 120 for women.
“We also provide case management services that offer employment assistance and service referrals,” Katia Brown, the chief development officer of the organization, said. “We provide dental care through our dental clinic as well as a nationally accredited child care program for children zero to five years old residing at our family shelter.”
Brown said she thinks the population of homeless CASS makes it a unique resource because they have the most single adult beds in the state, and CASS receives a lot of its clients from various sources such as the correctional system, hospitals, out of state and more.
“CASS is unique in that we are a major partner on the Human Services Campus; a one-stop resource for people experiencing homelessness,” Brown said. “CASS is the shelter provider on this campus with other campus partners such as St. Vincent de Paul, St. Joseph the Worker, Lodestar Day Resource Center and Healthcare for the Homeless.”
Brown said it is important for people to be educated on the issues the homeless population faces.
“Many times, it goes beyond what people may see on the corner,” Brown said. “It deals with mental health issues, veterans, transgender, LGBTQ, socio-economic status, domestic violence and more. Being homeless is a multi-faceted condition. The more people understand, the better they can serve.”