Maricopa County’s population is booming, and homelessness has followed suit. The crisis affects people of every race, background, age and economic status. It affects us all . . .
On any given day there are more than 9,000 men, women and children struggling through various stages of homelessness in the Valley. Some of them are highly visible — they live in tent cities, along roadsides or in public parks. Others are hidden out of the way in fields or cars or residing in a shelter.
Back in 2020, Maricopa County reached a grim milestone: for the first time ever, more than half of the area’s homeless population was left unsheltered. Since then, the divide between sheltered and unsheltered has only continued to widen. Meanwhile, the experiences of those surviving homelessness are as diverse as the people themselves.
According to Maricopa County’s official Point-In-Time count in January 2023:
are unsheltered — on the streets, in their cars or some other habitation unfit for humans
are sheltered in some sort of emergency housing or program
- An estimated 1,133 children (0 – 17) are homeless, either with a parent(s) or on their own
- There are approximately 505 veterans on the streets of Maricopa County
- 637 individuals escaped domestic violence
What Does Homelessness Look Like?
Not everyone classified as homeless is living on the streets. Other common situations not included in the Point-in-Time count include:
- Families and individuals crammed into homes with friends or relatives, without the security of a lease, a legal guarantee of habitation, or even a bedroom!
- People “couch surfing” with one friend after another
- People living in garages, stairwells, their cars or other out-of-the-way spots
Very often, these places of refuge are the “final strands” of a badly torn safety net keeping individuals off the streets. When they break, there is nowhere else left to go.
Why Does Homelessness Happen?
People tend to become homeless due to an overwhelming combination of personal crises, including:
- Poverty / lack of affordable housing
- Mental Illness
- Domestic Violence
While addiction is by far the most common reason for homelessness, experience has shown us that the line between drugs, alcoholism and mental illness is not always easy to pinpoint. Many men and women with substance abuse problems have deep emotional scars, frequently from childhood. It’s no surprise either that most people on the streets also lack an adequate support network. Their backgrounds routinely include broken homes, abusive relationships, financial disasters, crushed hopes and other devastating losses.
These personal tragedies are the “story behind the story” of addiction, and addressing any and all related root issues is paramount to an individual’s long-term recovery.
What is the Phoenix Rescue Mission Doing?
Our vision is to bring love, hope and transformation to every neighbor in the Valley, especially those who are crushed by the overwhelming burdens of homelessness, hunger, addiction or trauma.
This vision is fulfilled through:
- Direct outreach to individuals surviving on the streets
- Emergency water and food assistance
- Professional, involved case management
- Long-term, life-changing programs that range from addiction recovery to workforce development, housing acquisition to education and more
These comprehensive programs address the whole person — their physical, emotional, spiritual and financial needs. We continue to test new concepts, strengthen existing programs and build strategic partnerships with public and private entities for the betterment of our community and the care of our neighbors.
We believe no one has lived so long in the darkness that the light of restoration and love of God is beyond them.
Hope is alive here.
Thanks to the faithful prayers and generous support of our friends, Phoenix Rescue Mission is built on a Gospel foundation and carries out the Great Commission of Jesus Christ throughout the Valley, with a special emphasis on serving the “least of these” (Matthew 25:40).
What Can You Do?
There are a multitude of ways to serve your homeless neighbors in partnership with the Phoenix Rescue Mission.