McQuaid Continues Mission to End Homelessness in Arizona
In this episode, STN, in collaboration with the Human Services Campus, continues to work to highlight the challenges in the fight to end homelessness and more importantly, the solutions.
McQuaid Mission co-host and Human Services Campus Executive Director Amy Schwabenlender helps guide the conversation about the importance of understanding the root causes of homelessness. She believes that getting to the core of the issue is necessary to take action and make an impact.
In this episode she spotlights two Arizona organizations actively working to end homelessness in unique ways.
The Homeless ID Project
The Homeless ID Project focuses on giving homeless populations identification documents. Lack of identification is one of the traps keeping millions of Americans in a state of chronic homelessness.
Executive Director of the Homeless ID Project, Rick Mitchell, explains why the inability to secure identification documents is one of the biggest obstacles communities face in their fight to overcome homelessness. Mitchell shares how the Homeless ID Project helps individuals and families. He tells the story of how the organization has helped one particularly at-risk community. Specifically, he shows how securing identification documents serves as the critical first step in the process of rebuilding lives.
Action Nexus on Homelessness
The second featured guest in this episode is the Dean of Arizona State University’s Watts College and Vice Provost for Public Service & Social Impact, Jonathan Koppell.
Koppell introduces Arizona State University’s Action Nexus on Homelessness program. According to Kpppell, this program is empowering the next generation to become agents of change by making communities stronger, more resilient and more equitable places to live.
Koppell also shares what makes young people uniquely equipped to become game-changing forces in the issue of homelessness.
Real Stories from Arizonans
This episode also features a man who lost his home at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. He openly shares his story of how he was able to re-group and re-enter the work force thanks to the help of the Human Services Campus, a McQuaid Mission partner.
Schwabenlender also answers questions from community leaders and offers expert insight into the most effective ways to use resources to collaborate with existing organizations and provide help where they need help most.
Don’t Miss These Episode Highlights:
This episode kicks off with an update the current state of homelessness in Arizona. Amy Schwabenlender shows how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted homelessness in Phoenix over the past year. According to Schwabenlender…
“There are currently around 11,000 people experiencing homelessness in Arizona. Homelessness in the state over the last year has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, negative impacts of the pandemic on employment, the economy and housing” (2:03).
Rick Mitchell joins the conversation to discuss how the difficult path to securing identification documentation. He explains how access to state IDs and other vital records serves as one of the biggest obstacles for homeless individuals and families trying to escape homelessness.
“If you don’t have an ID, you can’t get a job. If you don’t have an ID, you can’t get housing. If you don’t have an ID, you’re stuck in homelessness,” says Mitchell (3:35).
Mitchell shares Homeless ID Project’s mission to help those experiencing homelessness secure the replacement identification documents they need to re-enter the work force and subsequently secure housing.
Mitchell also identifies one particularly at-risk community that Homeless ID Project is working to help – kids aging out of the foster care system. According to Mitchell:
“40 to 50% of kids aging out of foster care end up incarcerated or homeless within two years” (4:33).
Many kids who age out of foster care lack the necessary documents needed to secure employment and housing (4:43).
Recognizing the unique challenge of this at-risk community helps the Homeless ID Project and foster care agencies across the state work together to push for legislation that ensures critical identification documents are available to those aging out of the foster care system (4:52).
In this week’s Face of Homelessness segment, we meet 56-year-old Terrance Alston who lost his home when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. He explains how the Human Services Campus helped him regroup and re-enter the work force (10:45). Alston says that without the help of organizations like the Human Services Campus, he believes he’d still be on the street. He says that the Human Services Campus gave him the essentials he needed to get back on his feet.
This episode’s Leader to Leader Q&A focuses on the many ways communities can work together to fight homelessness effectively. Ashley LaRae, founder of Style PHX, asks local experts how business owners and community leaders like her can…
“Help support a more sustainable way of living for the homeless community, specifically with emotional health, physical health mental health and fresh food” (12:30).
Schwabenlender suggests businesses and community leaders use their interests, the issues they’re invested in and their unique resources to guide them in reaching out and connecting with organizations doing that kind of work (12:42).
Schwabenlender explains that asking an organization what they need and using their resources to fill that void are some of the most effective actions community leaders can take in helping to collaborate to combat homelessness.
Finally, Koppell talks about how the next generation of community leaders is stepping up and coming together to join the fight to end homeless. Koppell spotlights the Action Nexus on Homelessness program. It’s part of Arizona State University’s Watt’s College of Public Service and Community Solutions. The program aims to empower the next generation of community leaders to harness university resources and the efforts of existing systems and agencies throughout Maricopa County to collaboratively drive solutions forward to end homelessness.
Koppell believes that with the right guidance and resources behind them combined with their unwillingness to accept the status quo, young people are uniquely poised to become game-changing forces in the fight to end homelessness and turn lessons into action, which is exactly the kind of drive Action Nexus is working to empower.
“I think that young people are more idealistic and more passionate about service than many generations that came before and what’s striking to me is that they’re impatient. They want to take action. They want to do something” (17:32).
McQuaid Mission Mythbusters
In this episode’s Mythbusters segment, Schwabenlender debunks the myth that an equal number of men and women experience homelessness in Arizona. Schwabenlender explains that of the homeless population they serve at the Human Services Campus…
“Approximately 80% of homeless individuals are male and 20% are female” (23:26).
Schwabenlender also explains why the accuracy and understanding of that kind of data is critical to the Human Services Campus’ mission to fight homelessness effectively in Arizona.
Schwabenlender says that when they look at how they design services and fill open positions, they work to ensure they’re serving people with a staff that look like them, that they’ll connect with and that they’ll feel comfortable sharing often private information with. She also notes how important it is to not only recognize but examine the differences in the causes of homelessness between men and women so that they’re approaching the issue by combating specific problems.