SEASON 1: Understanding the Issues

HSC looks for ways to dole out $10 million grant

Getting the grant certainly wasn’t easy, but now comes the hard part.

After receiving a $10 million allocation to address homelessness in Maricopa County as part of the American Rescue Plan Act, the Human Services Campus is setting out on a mission to determine the best way to spend it.

In this McQuaid Mission Action Panel during episode 5 of It Happens at STN, HSC Executive Director Amy Schwabenlender and UMOM CEO Jackson Fonder break down getting the grant, what it actually means, and the difficult decisions that need to be made now.

Watch the McQuaid Mission Action Panel



Action Panelists

Amy Schwabenlender

Jackson Fonder

The McQuaid Mission is dedicated to continuing Mike McQuaid’s mission to end homelessness.

Each month we explore the issues, efforts, progress and solutions surrounding homelessness in Phoenix

Action Panelists

Amy Schwabenlender

Executive Director

Human Services Campus

Jackson Fonder



We want to do things that we know will have sustainability because the money's going to run out.
Amy Schwabenlender

Getting the grant

About a year ago, the governor’s office was asking for a framework on how to address unsheltered homelessness that wasn’t criminalizing, it wasn’t about creating encampments in the middle of the desert and sending people to them.

So, we created a list of nine ways that were more dignified, humane, and addressed people’s specific needs around mental health, or for youth. Through the course of the year, the legislation moved, and then as Governor (Doug) Ducey was about to leave office, I got a call saying, “we’d like to give you 10 million towards your proposal.”

Spending smartly:

Now, it’s about how we smartly utilize $10 million.

That list of nine things could be $100 million or $200 million, right? So it’s fantastic and it means being really strategic about how can we as quickly as possible start to address unsheltered homelessness. We don’t want to wait too long to spend this money. It’s tied to the American Rescue Plan Act. So, we can’t have forever to spend it. We want to do things that we know will have sustainability because the money’s going to run out.

It’s really been exciting as the word has gotten out. People are thinking creatively about how can we best coordinate our dollars. We’re already having conversations with donors that this $10 million doesn’t resolve anything going on at 12th Avenue in Madison as far as our annual operation. This is about addressing homelessness in ways that aren’t currently being implemented.

Not Just in Phoenix

Homelessness doesn’t exist just in downtown Phoenix and there aren’t a lot of outreach teams across the valley. How do we really build so we can be in more places? As the word has gotten out and other jurisdictions are looking at how much money they have left from their American Rescue Plan dollars, we’re starting to have conversations about how can we really pair things up and really leverage this opportunity.

"We have revenue and we have expenses. We've got to think about the future and the sustainability of that funding."
Jackson Fonder

Business Mentality

Ten million dollars deserves congratulations. It’s exciting, but we’re a business. You can call us a nonprofit, but we’re a business. We have revenue and we have expenses. We’ve got to think about the future and the sustainability of that funding.

If you were to gift me a $3 million hotel, that would be phenomenal. Maybe located five miles away and I have to operate it. Say I’ve got 25 employees. Give me a calculator and five minutes, and I can tell you you’re bringing in $2.5 million of expenses, fully loaded. You’ve got commercial kitchens and you’ve got a whole multitude of what it takes to support that operation year in and year out.

Mission Alignment

What you hope for when you get a gift like this is that it aligns with Amy’s vision for the Human Services Campus and their board. And that you don’t have to have mission creep or scope creep that it lines up with our goals and it just fits in the right spot.

Because it inspires others, municipalities, other donors, and other foundations, they’ll want to get on board.

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