As the weather cools and the season of giving upon us, many find ourselves reflecting on our blessings. We take a little bit more time to give thanks to the family and friends at our side, the jobs continuing to provide and the home granting warmth and space to rest alongside those we love most.
It is during these moments of reflection and certainly, during this season, we see an increase in generosity across communities. We give greater attention to those in need as we seek new opportunities to make a difference in the lives of those who are less fortunate.
Homelessness is a growing national issue, impacting communities across America.
Although Peoria’s homeless counts are significantly lower than what we see across the nation and across our state, we have a plan in place to address this need and provide support and resources.
Peoria recently opened a Community Assistance Resource Center. Located in the heart of Old Town Peoria, this center is a safe place where individuals can connect with services and nonprofit organizations: provide personalized referrals to meet a variety of needs including financial guidance, medical care, child development services, addiction resources, nutrition assistance and more.
In addition, Peoria partnered with the Phoenix Rescue Mission, a local nonprofit dedicated to ending hunger and homelessness in the Valley and Central Arizona Shelter Services to provide emergency shelter for those in need. Peoria also has two police officers dedicated to homeless outreach. Even though our community doesn’t have a large homeless population, our police department sometimes receives calls from residents asking panhandlers to be relocated. Our police officers make regular contact with these individuals to offer services. During this outreach, officers have learned many panhandlers are not homeless and often choose to ask for money from our generous residents.
It’s important to note in numerous decisions in the last two years, federal courts ruled in favor of not criminalizing homelessness and panhandling. Nonetheless, we are committed to working closely with our partners to encourage those in need to take advantage of safer conditions at shelter facilities.
Peoria commuters will soon see new panhandling signs at key intersections throughout our city. These temporary signs are part of a regional effort and are intended to help residents understand it’s okay to say no to panhandling while directing generous residents to credible organizations. Information about those organizations can be found at givesmartaz.org.
This site is managed by the Healthy Giving Council, which is a fantastic regional organization dedicated to educating and connecting residents to direct, healthy and lasting ways to give to those in need. By working closely with the homeless community, they have learned “unfortunately, one-off donations delivered to street corners, parks, or other locations provide short-lived relief and can delay or divert people from seeking services that can help end their homelessness.” Over the next few months, the Homeless Giving Council will be sharing this message on more than 76 billboards throughout Maricopa County.
In Peoria, we recognize our community is only as strong as the people in it. Every day, we are working to ensure all residents have access to the resources and services they need to live their best lives. Peoria is proud to be a city guided by compassion; and with a comprehensive and regional effort to combat homelessness underway, Peoria will continue to do all we can to be part of the solution.
To contact Mayor Cathy Carlat, call 623-773-5133 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.