Local nonprofits have changed their daily operations to better serve Phoenix’s homeless population during the COVID-19 pandemic, but they need the community’s help to continue their operations, said representatives from the Homeless I.D Project and The Society of St. Vincent de Paul.
Organizations have switched to virtual services and changed operations to follow social distancing guidelines, but to keep up with these changes the non-profits need financial support and volunteers from the Phoenix community said Marisol Saldivar, the Public Relations Manager at St. Vincent de Paul, and Rick Mitchell, the Executive Director of the Homeless I.D Project.
Funding, donations and volunteers would help organizations continue to run their dining rooms and food services, aid in helping their clients receive medical care specifically for COVD-19, help provide clients with financial aid for housing and them get the proper paperwork they need.
“A lot of the traditional methods of funding of nonprofits have already been strained and as we go forward into 2021 a lot of the traditional sources of funding will have already dried up so it makes individual contributions to helping people experiences homelessness that much more important,” said Mitchell.
The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the homeless population around the country, not just in Phoenix. People experiencing homelessness often do not have access to health care or the resources they need, such as masks to protect themselves from the virus.
The pandemic has also caused many people around the country to lose their jobs, making it hard for them to afford their rent and mortgage payments or to be able to provide for their families. These issues are causing people to turn to local organizations for help.
The Homeless I.D. Project is a non-profit in Phoenix that helps those experiencing homelessness get their State I.D. and the proper paperwork they need to get a job and receive health care. This is something they have always done but continues as people lose their jobs and need medical café during the pandemic.
The Homeless I.D. Project is now virtually helping those experiencing homelessness get the proper paperwork they need over the phone and through email.
“We have been able to expand our service offering…we were serving in Maricopa County and Tucson; we are now able to serve all over the state of Arizona,” said Mitchell in regard to switching to online services.
Mitchell said that it helps the Homeless I.D project when people donate and discussed using the Arizona State Tax Credit to do so.
With the Arizona State Tax Credit, a taxpayer who has a tax liability in Arizona can make a donation to a qualifying organization and get 100% of that donation back up when they file their taxes up to a certain limit, Mitchell said.
“Whether you’re a college kid working a part time job or physician doing brain surgery at a local hospital, everyone can use that,” Mitchell said.
St. Vincent De Paul is another organization serving the homeless in Phoenix. They have not been closed a single day since the pandemic began. They have served 900,000 meals from May to August in 2020, and their organization has helped almost 1,000 households remain finically stable. St. Vincent de Paul’s medical clinic is now also serving patients with telehealth appointments and providing clients with COVID-19 testing.
According Saldivar, the community can continue to help St. Vincent de Paul help with these services by partnering with community service agencies and donating to the COVID-19 fund.
“Every time someone donates to that (COVID-19 relief fund) your money is going directly to that food assistance, making sure someone is clothed. It is also going to help pay families rent and utility bills,” Saldivar said.
Saldivar said that the community can also help by volunteering in-person and volunteering through their new program “Help from Home” where anyone can volunteer right from the comfort of their own living room.
“We have not been closed a single day since March…to have that kind of consistency and that kind of presence in a community means that you need a community that is generous enough to back that presence and services. We are so thankful to Arizonans that stepped during this heightened need to support our mission and we hope they will continue to support us during this time,” Saldivar said.