Director Amy Schwabenlender Finds Purpose in Her New Position and Has Big Goals in 2019
Homelessness plagues our society and can have long-term damaging effects to those who fall victim to it. It is difficult for someone who is experiencing homelessness to reach out for help, and often they are unsure where to turn or who to trust. This is why the mission of the Human Services Campus in Phoenix is so important in tackling an issue Director Amy Schwabenlender says one day hopefully won’t exist.
“Part of the reason I made the transition to my role here at the Human Services Campus from the United Way is that I have a tremendous passion for intervention and long-term change,” she says. “I hear stories of how people find us, and while we can’t meet every need, some of it is about system change: working with prisons, emergency care units and other outlets to make sure homelessness does not occur when it could have been avoided.”
The 13-acre, over 150,000-square-foot campus, is a collaborative force of partner organizations united on one campus to end homelessness. Located just west of downtown Phoenix, nearly 20 independent agencies on the campus see more than 1,000 individuals every day, offering a holistic range of client services including reunification with family and friends; mental, physical and dental health; shelter; employment; meals; legal services and housing. Having all of these resources in one location with intra-agency communications makes it more feasible to provide a customized engagement for each client to help end their homelessness.
“People show up here at a very low point in life. We want to help de-escalate their issues. We are client-centered and have professionals who can handle these situations. Our staff is well-trained and focused on creating success.”
Amy says while there is much success, success looks different for each person. The campus allows them a place to connect to nonprofits that help start the process.
“We can help people get an ID so they can find employment, and that assists in housing placement. We have a mailroom so they can have an address for correspondences. We offer connections to healthcare, meals and other basic needs that we often take for granted.”
What is often lost in the message at the campus is that this is a forgotten population that is labeled as homeless. However, the goal is to address all issues that led to the homelessness and help overcome barriers for unique situations.
“From the first interaction people have with our staff, we are trying to understand the path that led them here. Do they have friends and family we can call, do they need assistance with transportation, etc.”
The campus seeks donations throughout the year to cover costs of providing qualified and dedicated staff at the intake desk; the day resource center; referrals services building; and to assist with costs of the navigator staff, who assist with housing intervention; and helping people acquire benefits, IDs and Social Security.
The campus hopes to obtain financial support in order to have a weekend staff available, as well as to add shower and laundry facilities.
“Our annual fundraiser is Dec. 11 at the Biltmore Resort. We serve those who need and deserve assistance, and I believe this is a solvable issue. Through donations, we can obtain the resources and support so that people don’t wind up here,” Amy says.
To donate or learn more, visit HSC-AZ.org.
[PULL OUT WITH FACTS]
- 358 people were diverted from utilizing services and reunited with friends or family.
- 85 percent of those who visited in 2017 have not come back through the system.
- 6,600 individuals came through the campus doors.
- The campus was named an official entry site for single adults facing homelessness.