The Tucson Homeless Work Program begins its pilot phase beginning on Tuesday, December 6. The pilot program is over a year in the making. The idea for this pilot locally came out of a work group my office has been convening on homelessness that started meeting October 2015.
The purpose of the Tucson Homeless Work Program is to give people a pathway out of homelessness through work, community collaboration and navigation of existing services. Participants will complete a health screening for job readiness, work a 5 hour day, cleaning roadways, will be fed, at the end of the workday will have access to a shower, clothes and hygiene items and offered shelter for the night. The program has a Community Engagement Specialist who will work with each participant to ensure they receive a health screening and work with them to navigate any other needs they have. The program is intended to build trust with people and move them from temporary housing options to more permanent ones.
During the pilot phase of this program we will be collecting data from participants and their impact to our streets so that we can objectively deem if the program is a success.
“The idea Tucson Homeless Work Program came from the City of Albuquerque’s ‘There’s a Better Way,’ program,” said Ward 5 Councilmember Richard Fimbres. “I had the opportunity to visit Albquerque first hand to see the program and came to the conclusion that the idea could work for Tucson as well.”
During the pilot phase of the Albquerque program, 700 people had participated, clearing 25 tons of trash and cleaning 128 city blocks.
The pilot program is not a government program but was started through initial time funding from the City of Tucson and Pima County. The Tucson HWP has been getting support from business leaders who like the model and have expressed their support through donations to the pilot effort.
This pilot program would not have been possible without the collaboration and in-kind support of the various partner groups, including: Old Pueblo Community Services, Assurance Health and Wellness, Caridad Community Kitchen, Catholic Community Services, Cenpatico, The Salvation Army, The Primavera Foundation, El Rio Community Health Center and St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church.
“I want to thank all the partner groups who helped to bring the Tucson Homeless Work Program together and my Chief of Staff, Mark Kerr and aide, Matt Pate,” Ward 5 Councilmember Richard Fimbres added. “This effort will have a further outreach to those who need help, to get them services and into housing.”
The various groups involved in the day-to-day operation of this pilot have committed to meeting regularly to discuss progress and how the pilot needs to be adjusted to meet the needs of our community.