According the City of Phoenix, in 2011 there were 222 chronically homeless veterans living in the Valley of the Sun – all of whom were battling some type of mental or physical conditions that often led to some sort of substance abuse. That simply was not acceptable to many Phoenix-metro area residents including Peak One Builders founder, Michael Christensen; a retired Army veteran who considers ‘giving back’ as a mission, not a luxury.
Thanks to the collaborative efforts of City and State Officials, private business owners and several non-profit organizations, the State of Arizona seems to be leading the path in truly helping homeless veterans not only find affordable housing, but also to gain the medical, psychological and substance abuse assistance in order to live a quality life they fought to preserve.
A Realistic Solution in Helping Homeless Veterans
As stated above, in 2011 more than 200 homeless veterans in Phoenix had no place to find shelter, no safe environment to stay warm at night and no place to gain the therapy or medical assistance they need in order to live a proactive and engaging lifestyle. Most of these homeless veterans served in the Vietnam War or Operation Desert Storm only to return home with physical or mental handicaps that often led to substance abuse issues.
However, in 2009, the State of Arizona stumbled upon a realistic solution to this growing problem. According to local and national surveys, it is more expensive to cover the costs of emergency room visits or nights in jail for homeless people than it is to give them homes. A 2009 analysis commissioned by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, found that the monthly cost of housing and supportive services for one person was $605, while the public costs of a person living on the streets were roughly $2,900 a month.
This led the State of Arizona to take proactive measures to find ways to create affordable yet highly effective methods to provide homeless veterans with the housing and services they needed. And the program seems to be working. As late as December 2013, it was estimated that less than 45 of Phoenix’s homeless were veterans – and all of them found temporary housing before the New Year came. It is suggested that every homeless veteran will find permanent housing by Feb. 14 2014.
Now several non-profit organizations are also taking this problem by storm including The Arizona StandDown – an organization supported by Peak One Builders team. The Arizona StandDown is an alliance of community-based organizations that come together to provide annual, one to three day events that bring together the State’s homeless and at-risk military veterans, connecting them with services ranging from: VA HealthCare, mental health services, clothing, meals, emergency shelter, transitional and permanent housing, ID/drivers license’s, court services and legal aide, showers, haircuts and a myriad of other services and resources.
Arizona StandDowns are held at various locations throughout the State with the largest, serving approximately 1,500 veterans, at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in Maricopa County. The next event is a Motorcycle Rally to be held on February 8th, 2014. The event starts at 9:00am with registration and a full pancake breakfast kicking off at Harley Davidson of Scottsdale. You can learn more about this event, and find out ways you can help contribute to a positive solution of helping homeless veterans by visiting their website at http://www.arizonastanddown.org.