The numbers are staggering. Thousands of people are experiencing homelessness on Valley streets each day. Finding a way back into affordable housing is tough for many of them. A new program and a very ambitious goal are hoping to greatly reduce those numbers. The Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) Regional Council recently approved a resolution to join House America, a national initiative to address the issue of homelessness. The MAG Regional Council is the first Council of Governments in the nation to join more than 90 mayors, city and county leaders, governors, and tribal leaders participating in House America. “Homelessness is an issue that knows no boundaries. It is in our shared interest to work toward creating a lasting solution,” said Mayor John Giles, past chair of the MAG Regional Council. Increasing Numbers More than 5,000 households are experiencing homelessness in the region, according to the latest Homelessness Trends Report based on data from the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS). HMIS is a local database where homeless service providers collect client-level data related to housing and services. The report also shows that there are more people than ever before experiencing homelessness for the first time. This increase is believed to be the result of several factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic, rising housing costs, and inflation. Working Towards a Solution House America is an initiative launched by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) to address homelessness. It has two objectives for lowering the number of people experiencing homelessness: rehousing and creating new affordable housing. Those objectives focus on rapidly getting people experiencing homelessness back into homes and creating new affordable housing for others with extremely low incomes. It is a national approach that MAG member communities around the region are also adopting. House America plans to get 100,000 individuals or families off the street and add 20,000 new affordable housing units to the development pipeline within a year. MAG is encouraging member agencies to go above and beyond what they have already accomplished with the Pathways Home project. Achieving Goals In December, the MAG Regional Council unanimously approved Pathways Home, the Regional Homelessness Action Plan for Local and Tribal Governments to address homelessness. In just six months, MAG members and partners have already committed to the five-year goals set by Pathways Home. Now, the sites are set on going beyond those benchmarks with House America. While the two programs share the same goals, they differ on how they are measured. By joining House America, MAG and its partner agencies are committing to filling 1,225 units and developing 300 new units for extremely low-income populations before the end of 2022. These numbers are in response to the goals cited in Pathways Home to reduce homelessness by 25 percent. With the adoption of the resolution to join House America, MAG hopes to get more people experiencing homelessness into better situations faster. Katie Gentry, a human services planner with the Maricopa Association of Governments is confident the House America targets make sense. “Through the work of our member agencies, who continue to add units for people experiencing homelessness and investing in homeless solutions, we believe these are reachable goals,” she said. Donald Tucker was homeless before being connected to an affordable housing unit through Native American Connections. He now lives in a studio apartment in downtown Phoenix.