Where Were We?

 In Reflections
Reflections from the Front Lines

Where Were We?

It’s as if I woke up from a long sleep.

It’s been 20 days since my last post. I can’t count anymore the weeks/months of loss of smell; I did smell frying turkey bacon… as a vegetarian, this is not super exciting news, and I’ll take it as progress.

In current news, the HSC Outreach Team identified 853 individuals unhoused and unsheltered in our neighborhood this morning. Four shelter spaces on the Campus provide 900 individuals with an indoor space nightly. We are awaiting further information on the results of lawsuits involving the City of Phoenix and stand ready to partner with the City on strategies for quick implementation to bring more people indoors. A former client is decorating walls in HSC buildings with her artwork. She appears with large and small pieces and hangs them on the walls, brightening up our spaces. The pieces are all available for purchase, and she donates 10% to the HSC. She is a creative force. A couple of photos are below.

As of late, I have this feeling of “where were we?” I am guessing most of us have been in a conversation or situation, and something happens that derails the direction of the discussion or pauses an activity. Like when a doorbell rings, and you drop what you’re doing to answer the door. Then you turn around and go “Where were we?” and pick up where you left off.

For me, it’s a long pause that I’m turning around from, it’s the COVID pandemic pause. It’s now three years since everything shifted when the Human Services Campus went into “pandemic response mode.” In March 2020, we were planning, setting up additional shelter spaces, and seeking donations of PPE. The unsheltered count in our neighborhood was less than 300. We rode the ‘Rona wave.

And now it’s April 2023. I’m looking back and recalling things we started to do or were planning to do in 2019 and early 2020. And I say to myself, “Where were we?”

Where were we with implementing DEI evaluations and assessments?

Where were we with improving our recruiting, hiring, and onboarding processes?

Where were we with collaborating with partners to create one seamless, service delivery system for the people we serve?

Where were we with establishing more emergency shelter and permanent housing options?

Where were we with advocating for systems change, increased dollars in the Arizona Housing Trust Fund, and political will to ‘end homelessness’?

Where were we with seeking solutions to prevent discharges from hospitals and health care systems into homelessness?

Where were we with a solid approach to ending and preventing homelessness, from prevention through housing?

Through the pandemic, we did make some progress on the above, however, it was through the lens of COVID and emergency response. It wasn’t necessarily all well thought out and intentionally designed.

In March, it’s as if I woke up from a long sleep, like a bear who hibernates for the winter. I have awoken to the Spring of 2023 with a long yawn, rubbing my eyes, and slowly awakening to a new season. A season without constant COVID chaos.

Thank goodness.

If I started anything with you in 2019/2020 through today, and haven’t finished, I’m ready to go! Where were we?

Darenthia’s Art

Darenthia Art 1
Darenthia Art 2
Darenthia Art 3
Darenthia Art 4

About the Human Services Campus

Founded in 2005, the Human Services Campus is a collaborative force of partner organizations united on one campus to end homelessness. Located just west of downtown Phoenix, 16 independent agencies on the Campus see nearly 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. For more information, visit www.hsc-az.org.

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