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Local Organizations Help Fight Homelessness

Kassidy Wheeler, Staff Writer

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More than 14,000 people are homeless in Arizona. Homelessness is beginning to reach a five year high in Maricopa and the issue of homelessness is becoming increasingly severe in Arizona.

“I think it’s risky to give out money, but giving out toothpaste or food to people can really help those that need it,” said Jacob Hulett, a sophomore.

LeRoy Davidson, founded The Phoenix Rescue Mission in 1952. This organization is one of many shelters in Arizona. Their vision is to provide a community to help those in need to transform their lives and end hunger and homelessness. The organization served nearly 40 meals a day to the homeless. Now they operate out of the Changing Lives Center and still work out of Phoenix to serve those in need of food and shelter. The Phoenix Rescue Mission also has addiction recovery programs, solution programs, religious outreach, and community engagement projects.

The summer heat contributes further to the struggle of homeless people in Arizona. Many are exposed to very high temperatures and usually have no break from the heat all summer.

“I think we should have places where homeless people can go to get water because it’s very hot here in the summer,” said Mia Scirpo a junior.

The valley usually gets around 109 days of 100 degree or higher temperatures throughout the year. Overexposure to the sun and hot temperatures can lead to skin cancers, dehydration, and even death.

The Salvation Army activated the 2017 Red Shield Survival Squad program. This program assists those in need during the hot months of the summer in Arizona. The Salvation Army collects summer essentials like lip balm, water bottles, and sunscreen. Than they donate them to those who lack shelter for the summer in the desert. The Salvation Army also uses a “Give Warmth” campaign to accept warm clothes and other essentials to help homeless people survive the winter in Arizona.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 20-25% of the homeless population in America suffer from some form of severe mental illness.

“I think helping the homeless with mental illness is important, because I think many homeless have mental illnesses and are not receiving the care that they need,” said Cameron Bender, a student leadership teacher.

Many homeless people suffer from schizophrenia or manic-depressive illnesses. Many of the causes of these mental health issues are from the lack of quality in these people’s lives. Mental illnesses and homelessness tend to go hand in hand, especially when poor mental health can also affect physical health.

Examples of this are when someone who is homeless stops caring about their hygiene because they have no means to pay for it. Poor hygiene leads to health issues like HIV, skin diseases, or tuberculosis. Substance abuse becomes common from this because many people are forced to self-medicate to combat diseases. The rate of those that suffer from mental illness going homeless has been steadily increasing since the 1970s.

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Local Organizations Help Fight Homelessness