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MAG Regional Council votes to implement regionwide action plan.

MAG Regional Council votes to implement regionwide action plan

Regional Council, Homelessness

Elected officials at the news conference (left to right): Vice Mayor of Goodyear Brannon Hampton, Mayor of Tempe Corey Woods, Mayor of Scottsdale David Ortega, Mayor of Queen Creek Gail Barney, Mayor of Phoenix Kate Gallego, Mayor of Mesa John Giles, Mayor of Surprise Skip Hall, Mayor of Fountain Hills Ginny Dickey, Mayor of Chandler Kevin Hartke.

Donald Tucker ended his homelessness and recently found affordable housing through Native American Connections.From Homelessness to Housing

Donald Tucker first became homeless after two heart attacks and other medical challenges resulted in a 3-week long coma and left him disabled. While he eventually moved into an apartment in a high crime area, he called it a “bad situation.” Unable to afford anything better and struggling to survive on a fixed income, he applied for an affordable housing unit through a nonprofit called Native American Connections. Nine months ago, he moved into a studio apartment at Urban Living on Second Avenue.

“This is one of the best things I see that has happened to me as far as my health, my well-being, my mentality,” says Tucker. “I don’t have to worry that someone is going to break in my door, or gunshots are going to fire off, and all that stuff.  I’m very comfortable here and I can afford to pay my rent.”

After 6 months spent living with friends, Rey Galindo was accepted in a program to receive affordable housing.Rey Galindo, a father of two boys ages 6 and 12, lost his apartment when the rent jumped from $875 per month to $1,350. He had to move in with friends for 6 months, until he also found affordable housing through Native American Connections.

“We don’t have to worry about a place for home. We don’t have to worry about rent increases,” said Galindo, who says his boys can’t wait to get home from school each day. “They get to run around a lot, and it’s our own space, not someone else’s space.”

Soon, others struggling with housing stability may find the same housing success as Donald and Rey. For the first time, local and tribal governments have rallied around a single plan to respond to homelessness in the region.

Regional Council Approves Action Plan

“Pathways Home, the Regional Homelessness Action Plan for Local and Tribal Governments,” was unanimously approved by the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) Regional Council in December. The plan includes 770 new shelter beds and 1,225 new permanent housing units.

“This is a monumental step for the region in creating lasting change,” said MAG Regional Council Chair John Giles, mayor of Mesa. “Homelessness doesn’t start and stop at the boundaries of our respective cities and towns, and I’m proud that we’ve made this commitment to working together on a coordinated regional response. While there is much work still to be done, the Pathways Home plan provides a framework that empowers our local and tribal governments to take the next steps together.” 

The MAG Regional Council votes to approve the “Pathways Home” Regional Homelessness Action Plan.

The plan, which has a target goal of reducing homelessness by 25 percent by 2027, comes at a critical juncture. Arizona has the fastest growth in homelessness of anywhere in the country, with a nearly 10 percent increase. In just one year, the MAG region has seen a 12 percent increase in homelessness overall and an 18 percent increase among those not in shelter.

“We have taken an important first step today, but there is much more to be done,” said Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, who serves as MAG treasurer. “Our success demands we collectively measure and cooperatively implement improvements, commit to infrastructure investments, and include an array of choices with equitable access. I look forward to working with my regional partners in tackling this crisis.”

The plan calls for a range of options to create a balanced housing portfolio. This includes temporary housing, permanent housing with supportive services, and attainable housing. This range will ensure that people have access to housing at all income and ability levels.

The plan will launch in January with support from public, private and nonprofit partners.

Healthy Giving

Surprise Mayor Skip Hall called the Regional Council vote a gift that comes at a time when we are especially mindful of what we have to be thankful for and the importance of home and family.

“Unfortunately, the reality is that many of our friends and neighbors do not have a home decorated with twinkling lights, or a Christmas tree in the corner sheltering presents. They have no home, and in many cases, no shelter,” he said. “We are grateful for so many of you who want to help, not just during the holidays, but all year long. But we do want to share with you today some important reminders that there are ways to help that are better and healthier than others.”

Mayor Hall said providing food or spare change may help someone in the immediate moment, but unfortunately, that type of help is not sustainable, and it can prevent individuals from getting more valuable, lasting support.

“That is why we are requesting that you help by providing “Real Change. Not Spare Change,” said Hall. “Every community can do its part, and so can every resident.”

Here are a few ways to help:

Published December 14, 2021