PHOENIX — Undertaking Haven, a brand new type of homeless shelter for senior residents, helps them to shortly stabilize their lives.
A rising variety of older Arizonans are experiencing homelessness resulting in a “silver tsunami” of seniors needing shelter, stated Lisa Glow, CEO of Central Arizona Shelter Companies.
John Merkel, 56, is considered one of them. “I had some 401k that I cashed in, but it surely wasn’t sufficient to maintain for any longevity,” Merkel stated.
However as soon as the pandemic hit final yr, so did concern that CASS dormitories may develop into COVID breeding grounds due to the shut proximity of shoppers.
“We had about 30% of all the individuals in our 470-bed grownup shelter have been senior residents,” stated Glow. “A lot of them have medical circumstances, power circumstances, and we knew they have been most weak to the pandemic.”
With assist from the Metropolis of Phoenix and federal CARES Act COVID reduction cash, CASS contracted with a Valley resort for practically 100 rooms.
The ability allowed homeless seniors to socially distance.
In the end, Undertaking Haven didn’t simply forestall illness, it healed souls.
“You are transferring right into a palace, principally,” Merkel stated concerning the resort.
“I got here right here, and my eyes simply opened up – my complete spirit,” stated Theresa, a Undertaking Haven consumer who requested ABC15 to make use of solely her first title.
Having a personal lavatory, a door to your room, and a meal prepared in a fridge can restore dignity, which readies an individual to try and thrive.
“The mannequin that is centered on their wants has introduced different companions to the desk with extra housing sources,” Glow stated. “We additionally have been ready to usher in behavioral well being on the entrance finish and companions working with us, AARP, the Space Company on Getting older, and extra case managers to work with individuals.”
Caseworkers are on-site to assist carry resolutions in job searches, household reunifications, or rental help.
“We have needed to create this for a really very long time,” stated Derik Roof, supervisor of Undertaking Haven. “One of many silver linings of COVID is that we lastly received the cash to do it.”
Undertaking Haven’s estimated to value greater than $4.5 million over the course of 15 months, however Glow stated it’s financially prudent.
“They’re homeless a shorter period of time once they get the higher care,” Glow stated, “and that is more cost effective to the system.”
In a yr, Undertaking Haven has served 217 senior residents with 70% of them discovering constructive housing outcomes. The outcomes are so good, CASS hopes to proceed this program even after the pandemic ends.
There’s one limitation as a result of CASS’s contract ends in September with the resort.
Due to the financial influence of the pandemic, there are a number of closed, vacant lodges domestically. CASS is working with companions to purchase one to make Undertaking Haven everlasting.
“We do have a location in thoughts the place we’d be capable of shelter and serve about 130 seniors nightly,” Glow stated.
Merkel has felt linked and comfy at Undertaking Haven, however he is additionally getting ready to maneuver on.
“Proper now on the lookout for a normal supervisor job in an space restaurant,” Merkel stated.
With renewed confidence, Merkel says it is only a matter of time earlier than he’s employed and dwelling in his personal place.