Homelessness in Tempe continues to increase noticeably and there are limited resources available to address it. I-HELP (Interfaith Homeless Emergency Lodging Program), managed by Tempe Community Action Agency (TCAA), is one solution that has shown proven results in ending homelessness for hundreds of men and women each year.
A unique and cost-effective model, I-HELP saves tax dollars by engaging the faith community on behalf of the homeless. Ten area churches provide overnight sleeping space 365 days a year for up to 40 men and women at a time, and community groups and congregation members provide daily meals. The program moves to a different site each evening, with participating congregations serving as host sites ranging from once a week to once per month. TCAA provides a mobile shower unit, “Shower Power,” sponsored by the Henkel Corporation and the Dial brand, so that clients can maintain proper hygiene, an invaluable tool in gaining and maintaining employment. TCAA focuses on working with each individual to resolve the issues that have prevented him/her from having stable housing.
After many years of a successful partnership with I-HELP, First Congregational Church (FCC) soon will end its involvement due to the impending sale of their church building. This will cause a service gap of one night each week. I-HELP is looking for new congregational partners to join in this vital, ongoing effort.
“Participating as I-HELP hosts has allowed our church members to see the homeless as people who are sincerely trying to regain their independence,” says Jean Behrens, FCC’s chairperson of Mission and Social Action. “These are people who appreciate the church trusting them with their facility and are so conscious of leaving the space they gave us as good or better than they found it.”
Bedding and linens are provided to each site. I-HELP staff take responsibility for supervising the site overnight. I-HELP meals are coordinated by TCAA and prepared/served by congregation members, local businesses, service clubs and other volunteers.
For more information about becoming an I-HELP hosting site, or to take a tour of I-HELP at a participating host site, please contact Marcus Zigler, the I-HELP program manager at 480.350.5890 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tempe Community Action Agency (TCAA) offers supportive services to individuals and families striving for greater economic stability and self-sufficiency. We help those who are struggling to obtain adequate food and shelter, as well as seniors and disabled adults working to attain their highest level of independence. Acting with financial support from the community we serve, TCAA operates a food pantry, three senior centers, aging programs, the Tempe Interfaith Homeless Emergency Lodging Program (I-HELP), pre- and post-natal services, two community gardens, and other projects and programs that serve our most vulnerable residents. For more information, please visit www.tempeaction.org.