Capitol Update

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We hear from legislative leaders about the latest bills and issues from the state capitol.

TED SIMONS: THE MARICOPA ASSOCIATION OF GOVERNMENTS' ANNUAL "HOMELESS POINT-IN-TIME" COUNT SHOWS FEWER HOMELESS PEOPLE IN THE VALLEY, BUT AN INCREASE OF THOSE FORCED TO LIVE ON THE STREETS. HERE TO TALK ABOUT THE SURVEY IS AMY SCHWABENLENDER OF THE VALLEY OF THE SUN UNITED WAY AND CO-CHAIR OF THE CONTINUUM OF CARE BOARD. WELCOME BACK TO "ARIZONA HORIZON."

AMY SCHWABENLENDER: THANK YOU.

TED SIMONS: GOOD TO SEE YOU. THE HOMELESS POINT-IN-TIME COUNT, WHAT EXACTLY IS THAT?

AMY SCHWABENLENDER: THE HOMELESS POINT-IN-TIME COUNT IS A REQUIREMENT BY THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT AND CONTINUUMS OF CARE ARE ALSO REQUIRED BY HUD, TO BE STRUCTURED TO RECEIVE FEDERAL DOLLARS TO FUND HOUSING PROGRAMS. AND IN ORDER TO HELP HUD UNDERSTAND OUR NEED, REQUIRES THIS ANNUAL POINT-IN-TIME COUNT.

TED SIMONS: SO IT'S BASICALLY A SNAPSHOT FOR ONE DAY, CORRECT?

AMY SCHWABENLENDER: EXACTLY. IT'S A SNAPSHOT.

TED SIMONS: AND THIS WAS TAKEN JANUARY 23RD OF THIS YEAR?

AMY SCHWABENLENDER: THE NIGHT OF JANUARY 23, 2017.

TED SIMONS: HOW IS A HOMELESS COUNT CONDUCTED? WHAT HAPPENED ON THAT NIGHT?

AMY SCHWABENLENDER: WHAT HAPPENED WAS, ABOUT 300 AMAZING VOLUNTEERS INCLUDING PROFESSIONAL OUTREACH WORKERS WERE ASSIGNED AREAS ACROSS THE VALLES. AND IN GENERAL CITIES FORMED TEAMS, EACH MUNICIPALITY CREATES A VOLUNTARY COORDINATOR THAT RECRUITS OUTREACH WORKERS AND PEOPLE IN THE PUBLIC WHO JUST WANT TO HELP. THEY ARE ASSIGNED A GRID. THEY HAVE ABOUT FOUR HOURS TO GO OUT THROUGH THEIR GRID AND IDENTIFY PEOPLE AND ASK THEM A SET OF SURVEY QUESTIONS AND THEY TURN THE DATA BACK INTO MAG (MARICOPA GOVERNMENT) FOR TABULATION AND HERE WE ARE.

TED SIMONS: AS FAR AS THE DATA IS CONCERNED, HOW MANY HOMELESS PEOPLE IN MARICOPA COUNTY AS OF JANUARY 23RD?

AMY SCHWABENLENDER: THE EXACT NUMBER, SO I THAT GET IT RIGHT, BECAUSE PEOPLE PAY ATTENTION TO THE SPECIFICS IN THIS NUMBER, THERE WERE 5,605 PEOPLE ON THE NIGHT OF JANUARY 23RD.

TED SIMONS: NOW THAT IS ACTUALLY A SLIGHT REDUCTION? CORRECT?

AMY SCHWABENLENDER: IT IS.

TED SIMONS: WHAT DO YOU THINK IS GOING ON THERE?

AMY SCHWABENLENDER: 2% DECREASE OVER ALL. THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE COUNTED ON THE STREETS NOT SHELTERED WENT UP. THAT'S THE COUNT THAT NIGHT THE VOLUNTEERS ARE OUT ON THE STREETS, LOOKING IN CANALS OR BEHIND PUBLIC BUILDINGS. IN SHELTERS THOSE NONPROFIT PROVIDERS ARE TURNING IN THEIR CENSUS FOR THAT NIGHT, IT GETS ADDED UP TO THAT NUMBER. THERE ARE A LOT OF THINGS WE BELIEVE CONTRIBUTES TO THE STREET POPULATION. THE GOOD NEWS IN THE TOTAL NUMBER, IT'S BEEN ABOUT 6,000 OR UNDER FOR THE LAST FIVE YEARS. THE STEADINESS OF THAT TOTAL, I THINK TELLS US THAT ARE COMMUNITY IS DOING THE BEST WE CAN WITH ALL THE RESOURCES THAT WE HAVE. THAT THOSE DIRECT SERVICE PROVIDERS ARE SERVING AS MANY PEOPLE AS THEY CAN. THERE IS AN INFLOW OF NEW PEOPLE EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS.

TED SIMONS: BUT IF THE NUMBER FOR HOMELESSNESS IS DOWN AND THE NUMBER FOR ON THE STREET IS UP, FROM A DISTANCE YOU'D THINK, FEWER PEOPLE ARE USING SHELTERS, MORE OF THEM ARE ON THE STREETS. DO WE KNOW: A. IS THAT IS TRUE? B. WHY?
AMY SCHWABENLENDER: THERE'S ESSENTIALLY THE SAME NUMBER OF SHELTER BEDS. THERE HAS BEEN SOME REDUCTION IN TRANSITIONAL SHELTER BEDS, WHICH WERE FOR LONGER TERMS STAYERS, 18 TO 24 MONTHS AND HUD FOR THE LAST SEVERAL YEARS HAS REDUCED FUNDING FOR THAT INTERVENTION. IT DOESN'T MAKE UP FOR THE TOTAL DIFFERENCE, THOUGH. THE OTHER THINGS WE KNOW, ARE THAT MARICOPA COUNTY IS ONE OF THE FASTEST GROWING COUNTIES IN THE UNITED STATES. FROM JULY 2015 TO JULY 2016, WE GAINED MORE THAN 81,000 PEOPLE, WHICH MEANS IN TOTAL, WE HAVE MORE PEOPLE. FOR A PERCENTAGE OF POPULATION EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS, WE ARE DOING WELL. WHAT WE ALSO KNOW, THROUGH THE HOUSING PROGRAMS AND A LOT OF FEEDBACK; IS THE AFFORDABILITY AND ACCESS TO APARTMENTS, FAMILIES WHO HAVE NUMBERS OF CHILDREN WHERE YOU NEED THREE OR MORE BEDROOMS AND AN AFFORDABLE HOUSE TO RENT, THAT'S BECOMING HARDER AND HARDER TO LOCATE.

TED SIMONS: IT'S INCREASINGLY DIFFICULT, ISN'T IT?

AMY SCHWABENLENDER: YES.

TED SIMONS: AFFORDABILITY.

AMY SCHWABENLENDER: AFFORDABILITY IS INCREASINGLY DIFFICULT.

TED SIMONS: THE METHODOLOGY THOUGH, IF YOU HAVE MORE FOLKS, THE RISING TIDE LIFTS ALL BOATS, EVEN THE BOATS THAT DON'T SEEM TO HAVE A HOME. THE METHODOLOGY WOULD SEEM TO BE A LITTLE BIT BETTER AS WELL. IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU HAVE MORE CASEWORKERS OUT THERE.

AMY SCHWABENLENDER: WE HAVE HAD MORE VOLUNTEERS THIS YEAR AND LAST YEAR, OUT COUNTING PEOPLE. THAT COULD HAVE CONTRIBUTED TO THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE FOUND AND COUNTED. THAT'S A GOOD THING, THAT WE ARE FINDING MORE PEOPLE TO BE ABLE TO THEN FOLLOW UP AND HAVE OUTREACH TEAMS GO BACK AND FIND THOSE PEOPLE AGAIN AND WORK TO ENGAGE THEM IN SERVICES.

TED SIMONS: THE CONTINUUM BOARD SAID, THE QUOTE IS, THE PROBLEM OF HOMELESSNESS IS SOLVABLE. HOW?

AMY SCHWABENLENDER: YES. THE PROBLEM OF HOMELESSNESS IS SOLVABLE BY HOUSING PEOPLE AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE AND GIVING THEM ENOUGH WRAP AROUND SERVICES TO REDUCE THEIR POTENTIAL FOR RETURNING TO HOMELESSNESS AND THERE IS MORE WE CAN DO AROUND PREVENTING PEOPLE FROM LOOSING THE HOMES THEY HAVE TODAY AND ADDING THAT INFLOW OF NEW INDIVIDUALS AND FAMILIES TO HOMELESSNESS.

TED SIMONS: RESOURCES. WHAT KIND OF RESOURCES, ARE NEEDED OUT THERE? DO WE HAVE THE RESOURCES, JUST NOT ENOUGH OF THEM? OR ARE THERE SIMPLY THINGS THAT WE DON'T HAVE?

AMY SCHWABENLENDER: THERE'S NOT ENOUGH RESOURCES. THIS ONE FUNDING PROCESS FROM HUD THAT WE HAVE THE CONTINUUM CARE AND POINT-IN-TIME COUNT FOR BRINGS OUR COMMUNITY ABOUT $25 MILLION. THAT'S NOT FOR EMERGENCY SHELTER. THAT'S FOR HOUSING INTERVENTION. I THINK, IT STARTS TO PAINT THE PICTURE THAT WE NEED A FUNDED SAFETY NET FOR PEOPLE WHO EXPERIENCE HOMELESSNESS. THAT THEY CAN ACCESS A SHELTER BED AND SERVICES AND LEARN ABOUT HOUSING INTERVENTION THAT WOULD END THEIR HOMELESSNESS AND THEN WE NEED THE RESOURCES THERE FOR THESE HOUSING OPTIONS.

TED SIMONS: AS FAR AS PRIVATE INDUSTRY IS CONCERNED, THE PROVIDE WORLD, HOW CAN THEY HELP?

AMY SCHWABENLENDER: MY UNITED WAY SELF, NOT JUST MY CONTINUUM CARE SELF, WE ENCOURAGE THE PRIVATE SECTOR TO GET INVOLVED BY CONTRIBUTING FINANCIALLY, TO NONPROFITS DOING THIS AMAZING WORK AND TO ADVOCATE FOR CHANGE. NOT EVERYONE WATCHING PROBABLY KNOWS THE H.U.D. FUNDING IS UP FOR DEBATE. SHOULD COMMUNITIES RECEIVE THE SAME AMOUNT OF MONEY, IT'S NOT GENERALLY ABOUT RECEIVING MORE MONEY. PRIVATE SECTOR PEOPLE AND THE GENERAL PUBLIC CAN GET INVOLVED IN HOWEVER SUIT THEIR DESIRE. IF THEY HAVE A VOICE AND THEY WANT TO ADVOCATE, THERE'S ADEQUACY OPPORTUNITIES. PEOPLE WHO CAN GIVE OF THEIR TIME, THEIR TALENT AND THEIR MONEY. THERE'S ENDLESS OPPORTUNITIES FOR PEOPLE TO GET CONNECTED.

TED SIMONS: WELL WITH THAT IN MIND, LET'S TAKE AN OVERVIEW NOW OF THE STUDY. WHAT DO WE TAKE FROM THIS? JANUARY 23RD, WE HAD 56 HUNDRED SOME ODD PEOPLE OUT THERE. WHAT DO WE TAKE FROM THAT NUMBER?

AMY SCHWABENLENDER: I WOULD SAY, WE TAKE AWAY THAT WE ARE HOLDING STEADY AS A REGION. AND ANYONE WHO READS STORIES FROM OTHER COMMUNITIES ACROSS THE COUNTRY, THEIR NUMBERS OF HOMELESSNESS HAVE GONE UP OVER THE LAST SEVERAL YEARS. I WOULD SAY IT TELLS US AND OUR PROVIDER NETWORK, NONPROFIT PARTNERS AND GOVERNMENT PARTNERS ARE DOING THE VERY BEST THEY CAN TO SERVE PEOPLE EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS AND THE RESOURCES WE HAVE ARE NOT ENOUGH.

TED SIMONS: ALL RIGHT. GOOD TO HAVE YOU ON. THANKS FOR JOINING US. WE APPRECIATE IT.

AMY SCHWABENLENDER: THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

TED SIMONS: THURSDAY A JOINT ARIZONA HORIZON/ HORIZONTE SPECIAL: WE'LL HEAR FROM STAKEHOLDERS AND EXPERTS ON WHAT MIGHT HAPPEN IF PRESIDENT TRUMP RENEGOTIATES OR PULLS OUT OF NAFTA, THE NORTH AMERICAN FREE TRADE AGREEMENT. THAT'S THURSDAY AT 5:30 AND 10:00 ON "ARIZONA HORIZON" AND THURSDAY 11:30PM ON "HORIZONTE." THAT IS IT FOR NOW. I'M TED SIMONS. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US. YOU HAVE A GREAT EVENING!

Dan Hunting, ASU Morrison Institute of Public Policy

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