A pilot program of twice-weekly clean ups in the neighborhood surrounding the Human Services Campus (HSC) in response to concerns by community members produced significant outcomes in its first year.
Coordinated by Andre House of Arizona, more than 1,100 homeless volunteers participating In the Clean Zone Project collected 136,648 gallons of trash during 90 two-hour cleanup sessions completed since last July. Volunteers were compensated for their effort with vouchers for laundry (396), showers (558), one-day bus passes (454) and $5 fast-food gift cards (583).
Total cost for the project, funded by campus service providers including HSC, Andre House, Catholic Charities Veterans Outreach, Central Arizona Shelter Services (CASS), St. Joseph the Worker and St. Vincent de Paul, was $10,278. Costs included payroll ($6,140) for a part-time program coordinator and a part-time employee currently experiencing homelessness using HSC services, and for supplies and materials ($4,138).
“We are very pleased with the results of the program’s first year on several levels,” said HSC Executive Director Amy Schwabenlender. “Not only has it made a difference in the neighborhood, the program offered people experiencing homelessness on our campus the chance to make a positive contribution and be rewarded for their efforts.”
The program will be expanded and strengthened during its second year “thanks to the generous contribution of an anonymous benefactor providing funding for the needed supplies and through a partnership with the Governor’s Office of Youth, Faith and Family, which will host a full-time AmeriCorps VISTA member to coordinate the program,” said Andre House Coordinator of Advocacy and Partnerships Ash Uss who organized the project.
The pilot program’s initial focus was the area between 9thand 15thavenues and Jefferson and Harrison streets. “Our goal moving forward is a consistent, dedicated long-term program that also addresses concerns on streets, parks and neighborhoods beyond the original area of focus,” Uss said.
Part of the challenge in the build up of trash in the area is well-meaning efforts by community groups to provide food and water to individuals living on the adjacent streets and on the Human Services Campus.
“Street feeding is illegal in the Capitol Mall Overlay of Phoenix, where the Human Services Campus is located, and though we understand that many people are motivated to help out, they probably don’t realize the challenges it poses for the neighborhoods,” Schwabenlender said. “Many people may not know that anyone on the Human Services Campus – more than 800 men and women a day – receives three meals a day through campus partners St. Vincent de Paul and Andre House.”
HSC, which owns and manages the 13-acre campus housing 16 independent nonprofit organizations collaborating on a range of services, is seeking Phoenix City Council approval to add more shelter beds.
The HSC request, which requires council approval and would adhere to agreed-upon stipulations suggested by the city, includes three components:
• Adding 275 beds at CASS, where all beds are filled almost every night. CASS’ Certificate of Occupancy allows for 700 beds.
• Allow the Andre House, adjacent to the Campus, to develop a new minimum 50-bed shelter to operate on a 24/7 basis to assist highly vulnerable individuals who may encounter challenges because of pets and possessions that deter them from receiving services, and
• Allow an additional ad hoc 200 emergency shelter beds in the St. Vincent de Paul dining room during extreme summer and winter weather.
For more information about the effort, or to get involved, visit https://fromstreettohome.org.
For more information about Andre House, visit https://andrehouse.org.
For more information about the Human Services Campus, visit www.hsc-az.org.