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Phoenix churches to provide emergency shelters for people experiencing homelessness

The Phoenix City Council unanimously approved a contract worth $931,000 for churches to provide shelters for people experiencing homelessness. 

Funding will come from Phoenix’s allocation of the federal American Rescue Plan Act and will go to Lutheran Social Services to run its Interfaith Homeless Emergency Lodging Program. 

During Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Rachel Milner with Phoenix’s Human Services Department said Lutheran Social Services will designate pick up sites for people in need.  

“They will meet at typically 3 p.m. and be transported to the location for dinner and an overnight stay,” she said. “They’ll also have restrooms and showers available at those locations as well.” 

People will also undergo an assessment and receive referrals for health care, counseling, housing and employment services. The next morning, people will be driven back to the pick-up site. Milner said there is no time limit to how many nights someone can stay at an emergency shelter.

Phoenix expects each church to shelter 10 to 12 people every night starting early next year. Lutheran Social Services is still recruiting congregations — regardless of religious affiliation and its services are available to everyone.

The nonprofit provides similar shelters and referral services for healthcare and housing in Mesa, Glendale, Surprise, Avondale and Goodyear. The contract between Phoenix and Lutheran Social Services runs through June 2023 with one option to extend through Dec. 29, 2024.

As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.