Maricopa County Hits Milestone Providing Services to Unhoused Population

June 2021

Maricopa County Human Services Department has achieved a milestone of providing housing, transportation and vaccination services to more than 5,000 people experiencing homelessness.

“We knew we had to act fast to address the needs of people experiencing homelessness, and prevent that number from climbing, so early on in the pandemic, we created a comprehensive COVID-19 response plan,” reflects Bruce Liggett, Director of the Maricopa County Human Services Department. “Since March 2020, we have dedicated $17.5 million in funding toward supporting more than 5,000 people experiencing homelessness in Maricopa County.”

COVID-19 Response Plan for People Experiencing Homelessness

Five main principles have guided Human Services’ efforts to provide support and services those the County’s unhoused population since March 2020:

1. Protect the Most Vulnerable: Prioritize services to ensure that the most vulnerable who are sheltering in densely congregate settings have the option to transition to a non-congregate setting to avoid contracting COVID-19.

  • 69 Individuals were relocated from congregate settings to a closed campus facility in Scottsdale
  • 819 Individuals camping in close proximity to the Human Services Campus were provided socially distanced spaces with access to lavatories and hand-washing stations in the temporary Safe Outdoor Space. As this space phases out on June 30 due to the heat, people are offered safe, cooled indoor sleeping space or bridge housing.
  • 175 Unsheltered, vulnerable individuals were provided non-congregate shelter in Chandler (44), Mesa (55) and Tempe (76)
  • 363 Unhoused individuals from congregate settings and encampments have been provided non-congregate housing or bridge housing.
  • 2,212 Unhoused people experiencing homelessness have been provided weather relief through cooled, socially distanced, indoor sleeping space at the Human Services Campus.

2. Slow the Spread: Provide for the basic needs of people experiencing homelessness to slow the spread of COVID-19. Ensure people experiencing homelessness and service providers have access to PPE, hand-washing stations, COVID-19 testing and vaccinations.

  • 20,000 masks, hand sanitizer, disinfectant, hand washing stations and other PPE have been distributed throughout the County to serve people experiencing homelessness since March 2020.
  • More than 7,000 COVID-19 tests have been administered at locations serving people experiencing homelessness since April 2020.
  • More than 4,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered by Circle the City to people experiencing homelessness since January 2021.

3. Provide Safe Isolation: Provide a safe location for people experiencing homelessness to isolate when they receive a positive COVID-19 test result or if they are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms.

  • 1,300 People experiencing homelessness with COVID-19, or symptoms of the illness, have been provided safe isolation in hotels.

4. Provide Access to Regional Transportation: Ensure that transportation is available for people experiencing homelessness and inform the medical and shelter communities how to provide referrals for these resources.

  • More than 2,400 transports have been provided since May 2020 to people experiencing homelessness from COVID-19 testing locations allowing them to access hospitals, clinics and to arrive at isolation locations.

5. Provide Permanent Housing Solutions: Offer access to permanent housing to people that were displaced due to COVID-19 and those that are at risk for having severe medical issues related to COVID-19.

  • As of Mach 31, 2021, 112 households experiencing homelessness were provided rapid re-housing.

“As we expand our services to support the needs of people experiencing homelessness during the pandemic and in preparation for the high heat season, we are also working to make sure that people have a safe, cooled space to sleep,” said Rachel Milne, Assistant Director of Maricopa County Human Services, Housing and Community Development. “As these individuals come to shelter and housing locations, we are also able to offer meals, case management services and COVID-19 vaccinations.”

For more information on Maricopa County’s response to COVID-19, visit www.Maricopa.gov/COVID19.