A new chapter is beginning for Maricopa County’s largest homeless-services provider, the Human Services Campus in downtown Phoenix.
Soon, the non-profit cooperative that provides shelter, clothing, job counseling, health care and other assistance to people facing homelessness in the Valley will take ownership of the property it uses, as its revamped board of directors charts a new course.
Maricopa County, which provided land near 12th Avenue and Madison Street and a large chunk of funding to open the campus in 2005, will turn over the deed in the coming weeks. The county Board of Supervisors voted unanimously this week to approve the transfer.
“This was always the intention of the county to eventually turn the real estate over to the campus,” said Mike McQuaid, chairman of the Human Services Campus board. “The county has been incredibly generous over the years to help us build the campus and to remain technically as the owners. And it’s time for us now to take on that responsibility. I think the time is right.”
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A new opportunity for the neighborhood
Bruce Liggett, the county’s Human Services Department director, said transferring the property will give the non-profit and its various partners such as St. Vincent de Paul and Lodestar Day Resource Center more control over the land.
“This is going to really enhance not only the delivery of service to the people, but also the neighborhood. It’s going to really help connect that whole area to services and upgrade that whole area,” he said.
It also will reduce confusion about who neighbors can talk to when problems arise, Liggett said.
For instance, if a business owner is concerned about trash left on a sidewalk, it has been unclear who they should call.
“Is that the city? Is that the county? Is that the campus? Now it’s clearly the campus taking responsibility for the property,” Liggett said.
The campus has revamped its leadership in the past few years, which has boosted support from the community and brought in investments to improve the quality of service, McQuaid said.
Previously the board of directors consisted of a few executives from the non-profit partners that reside on the campus, who already are busy with their own missions, McQuaid said.
Now a 22-member board of directors hailing from law firms, corporations, large charities and the education community are guiding the direction of the campus and advocating for it.
Welcoming those most in need
One recent addition is the Brian Garcia Welcome Center, a $1 million facility that coordinates the flow of people seeking help, ensuring their needs are met.
Officials have more plans for expansion once the campus takes ownership of the land.
For instance, they hope to refurbish a rundown building known as the Men’s Overflow Shelter, which closed in 2015 because of code problems. It will become a larger storage space for homeless people’s belongings, McQuaid said, replacing the current dark and dusty basement used for the “bag and tag” operation.
The campus also plans to build more restrooms and a private area to change clothes, as well as resurface the parking lot to better welcome visitors.
Liggett emphasized that the county is not withdrawing its support.
“This in no way means the county is washing its hands of the campus or the issue of homelessness,” said Liggett, who serves on the campus board.
However, Maricopa County does intend to find more ways to address homelessness outside of downtown Phoenix, he said.
County government is reviewing applications for $600,000 to fund additional shelter beds, medical respite, youth homelessness services and rapid rehousing around the Valley, according to Liggett.
The bankruptcy of Tumbleweed Center for Youth Development, a charity serving homeless youth, underlined the need for the county to expand its efforts, he said.
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Human Services Campus Board of Directors
Steve Davis, WGM Associates
Brent Downs, St. Joseph the Worker and AZ Homeless ID Project
Charlene Flaherty, Corporation for Supportive Housing
Moises Gallegos, City of Phoenix Human Services
Steve Gervais, AZ Devco Services
Bill Hardin, Osborn Maledon
Jonathan Koppell, Arizona State University
Melissa Kovacs, firsteval
Kendra Lee, Arizona Public Service
Bruce Liggett, Maricopa County Human Services Dept.
Brian Manning, Snell & Wilmer
Pat McGroder, Gallagher & Kennedy
Jeff McMullin, Mansperger, Patterson & McMullin
Mike McQuaid, JM Management
Guy Mikkelsen, Community Volunteer, Retired
Linda Mushkatel, Community Volunteer, Retired
Joe Riley, Society of Saint Vincent de Paul
Bob Ryan, Brophy Preparatory Academy
Amy Schwabenlender, Valley of the Sun United Way
Andrea Smiley, TERROS Health
Mike Trailor, Arizona Department of Housing
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