CRISIS UPDATE – Message From Our Executive Director!
I wanted to reach out to you, our Community, and bring you up to date on where we stand with the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) recent retroactive defunding action.
You have been extraordinary in your support and we are so thankful. To those that have reached out financially, thank you. For those that have reached out and written political letters of support, followed and liked us on Social Media, and helped us get this story out to their circles of influence, thank you, please continue to do so. You are making a difference.
We have worked diligently with our political leaders, the local Continuum of Care, other Social Service agencies, the media and held a community informational session. We greatly appreciate everyone’s support while we are working our way through this unprecedented decision by HUD. The local Continuum is working with local funders at a regional level to see if there are any temporary emergency operational funds for all agencies (7) affected by HUD’s decision to help us “keep the lights on” and AC’s running as the Arizona summer comes upon us. Our hope is that temporary funding will be located to help us until we can get these families rehoused.
However, last Monday, we had to look at the House of Refuge’s current remaining funds and make an extraordinarily difficult call. 54 of our families were issued 30-day, non-renewal of lease notices. Because of your financial support we were able to place a 60 day time frame on that notice. That is significant, that means we have 60 days (instead of 30 days) to relocate these families into safe housing.
But, I come to you with the reality of homelessness in Maricopa County and the problems we face daily-
- Every week 50 families slip into homelessness in Arizona.
- On the latest update from our Coordinated Entry System 165 families were on wait lists for housing. Of those, more than 50 currently live in unsafe situations (in their cars, on the street, etc.). House of Refuge families have not yet hit these wait lists. The displaced House of Refuge families alone will push that list beyond 200, it will take months before we can find adequate off-site housing. The question is will they go to the top of the current wait lists and make other families wait longer, or, will they go at the bottom and risk House of Refuge running out of funds before alternate housing can be secured.
I am dismayed at how unresponsive HUD has been to this point. They changed their focus of funding, I understand, any non-profit knows funders are allowed to do that. But in defunding over 200 Transitional Housing programs nationally on May 2nd and giving House of Refuge inadequate notification (retroactive defunding) they have left 54 families at real risk of slipping back into homelessness again.
House of Refuge will rebuild our program in the future as we find new funding. We have 88 homes in our inventory and intend to continue to use them to offer families stable housing, job readiness, financial literacy, family stabilization and an opportunity to rebuild their lives. We have had a 90% success rate of doing exactly over the past 20 years. But, for now, our focus must be on working with local donors and providers and seeing these families safely through this crisis.
I come to you today and ask for your continued financial support. We MUST offer stable housing for our families until we can get them through these wait lists. We cannot do it with the current funds on hand. I am asking you as a community to reach out. Please go to our website, there is information on multiple donation opportunities. One example is the Arizona Charitable Tax Credit which is a win-win situation for every Arizona Citizen. Help us as we help these families.
Nancy Marion, Executive Director