Emergency housing for city’s vulnerable earns U.S. honor

On any given night in Tempe, more than 200 people lack shelter. This statistic prompted the Tempe Public Housing Authority and CARE 7, the city’s crisis response program, to develop three units of emergency housing.

For the success of this initiative, Tempe is being recognized nationally for two housing programs that provide emergency shelter to vulnerable residents and expand job opportunities to those in need.

The city’s Housing Services Department has received awards of merit from the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials as part of an annual competition open to all public housing authorities.

In addition, the department is a finalist for another national award from the Urban Land Institute recognizing innovative approaches to addressing the country’s affordable housing crisis.

Said Mayor Corey Woods:

“We are thrilled to be recognized by these …organizations for our work serving residents in need in Tempe.

“But the real honor is in helping a senior find safe and affordable housing or connecting a single parent with better job opportunities or working with a family to become financially independent.

“These success stories are what drive us to expand and innovate to meet more needs in our community.”

NAHRO honored 88 housing and community development agencies for their forward-thinking solutions to local housing issues that include beautifully designed buildings, resident services, employment and work skills development programs, public-private partnerships and innovative design projects.

The Awards of Merit given to housing services, part of the city’s Human Services Department, recognized two important initiatives: the emergency housing program and the workforce development program.

The units serve extremely vulnerable residents who would otherwise remain on the streets while awaiting shelter, safe housing and supportive services.

To date, the program has served 54 households and 88 percent have successfully transitioned to stable housing and greater self-sufficiency.

Participants in all of Tempe’s housing programs have household incomes that fall within the extremely low and very low range of area median income, according to a program spokespeerson.

Despite receiving rental assistance, the households struggle to increase self-sufficiency. Through the Tempe Housing Workforce Development program, a partnership with Maricopa County, nearly 170 participants have received workforce-related services.

Housing services, in partnership with community development and economic development, is also a finalist for the 2020 Urban Land Institute’s Larson Housing Policy Leadership Award, which recognizes innovative public sector solutions to the nation’s affordable housing crisis.

According to ULI, Tempe is notably looking outside the “federal funds” box to create boutique programs that provide a wide range of services and rent subsidies in the community.

The city’s Affordable Housing Strategy, meanwhile, is aimed at smart growth and helping ensure that development is more predictable for developers and residents. ULI’s Leadership Award winner will be announced in October.

Info: tempe.gov/Housing.

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