According to the Phoenix Rescue Mission, there are 25,832 homeless people in Maricopa County alone. Thirty-seven percent of those experiencing homelessness are in families.
Many people ask, “What should I do when a panhandler asks me for money?” We may feel uncomfortable with both giving and not giving money. Professionals recommend that you not give money but offer a kind word. If you’d like to give them something, a free sample toothbrush and toothpaste you picked up from your dentist, a granola bar, and water bottle, or a clean pair of socks would be greatly appreciated.
People become homeless for many different reasons including job loss, eviction, domestic abuse, illness, and yes, substance abuse. People don’t usually plan to become homeless; often a variety of events occur, leading to homelessness. Approximately half of the homeless population in Arizona is comprised of families with children.
Central Arizona Shelter Services (CASS) works to end homelessness one life at a time. Along with many other services, CASS distributes 150,000 water bottles from May to October, as a bottle of water can save a homeless person’s life. CASS reports that more than 57,000 veterans experience homelessness on any given night in the United States.
Eric Ortega, Program Manager of Homeless I.D. Project told me that in Arizona homelessness has risen since 2017. Homeless I.D. Project helps people experiencing homelessness obtain identification documents, which are needed before a homeless citizen can apply for services and assistance.
For more information, check out websites of organizations that aid homeless people and see how you can help. Not every donation is in the form of money. Hats, clean clothes, water bottles and other items can be helpful, and even life-saving.
If you need services, know someone who does, or want to donate, here is a partial list of agencies serving Arizona’s homeless citizens: