The City of Tempe has become the first city in the region to sign onto an official partnership to tackle homelessness across municipal boundaries.
Regional collaboration is a key piece of Tempe’s work toward the goal of ending homelessness. The regional resolution, approved unanimously by the City Council last week, represents a pledge by Tempe to work jointly with cities and towns to address a range of homeless-related issues.
Since 2017, the cities of Apache Junction, Chandler, Mesa, Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe, the Town of Gilbert, Maricopa County and the Maricopa Regional Continuum of Care Governing Board have been meeting to discuss their current approaches to helping people become housed, as well as the types of future initiatives that could make those efforts even more efficient and effective.
“Tempe is a compassionate, caring city. This is what we do,” said Mayor Mark Mitchell. “I hope this can be the beginning of reaching the next level of success regionally to help more individuals and families into housing.”
Tempe relies on a multi-pronged approach to address homelessness, including street outreach through the city’s HOPE team, collaboration between city departments, regional partnerships and the Agency Review process to fund community organizations and programs such as I-HELP (Interfaith Homeless Emergency Lodging Program).
Tempe is making steady progress toward housing chronically homeless people and successfully keeping them housed. Focusing on this population is vitally important, as people who are chronically homeless are the most frequent users of public safety and other services. The city also is successfully connecting the broader homeless population with housing and social services.
The City Council has approved additional investments toward its homelessness efforts in the upcoming fiscal year, which began July 1. The allocations – more than $1 million – adds city employees to work directly with people who are homeless, grows the Tempe Works jobs program and expands park maintenance to enhance city parks.
Along with the allocation, Tempe recently completed a Point-in-Time (PIT) summer homeless count to provide new data about people experiencing homeless in the city. Combined with information gathered during the annual PIT count in January, the data will help Tempe better understand community needs.
The new regional resolution is designed to provide solutions for the broader community.
Mitchell and other City Councilmembers have praised City Manager Andrew Ching for his leadership in working with other city managers on this issue. Ching said regional collaboration is key to preventing and ending homelessness.
“Homelessness does not know the political boundaries of cities and towns,” Ching said. “This resolution is a step in a very positive direction. We are all doing good work separately, and together we can improve how we share information, leverage resources, establish common goals and find solutions that maximize our ability to help people who find themselves homeless in our communities.”
The resolution includes East Valley municipalities, Maricopa County and the Maricopa Regional Continuum of Care Governing Board. The agreement does not bind any community to financial commitments or to specific solutions, Ching said. It simply formalizes the intentions of regional elected officials and staffs to work together in the coming years.
To read the resolution and learn more about Tempe’s efforts to address homelessness, visit tempe.gov/EndingHomelessness.