Photo by Amy S. Martin Photography
Consistent COVID-19 testing at our alternative shelter sites, and our latest result of ZERO positive cases across the board continues to prove that what we at FlagShelter are doing is certainly working to address the immediate needs of our community. Amidst rising numbers of cases across Arizona, it is imperative that we continue to be able to give safe and separate shelter to those who have nowhere else to go. But these hotels and the restructuring of our operations, though extremely effective, has had an unimaginable financial strain on this agency.
Through our hotel shelter program, we are giving 200 (or more) people the option to “stay home” every day. But it costs about $60/night per person to have them stay at one of our hotels. Our funding to be able to sustain this is running low. Without the funds to keep providing this emergency shelter option, we will not have any choice but to bring everyone back into our congregate shelter. For us and for our community, this is the worst option.
The CARES Act
The U.S. is hunkering down for the long-haul, and resources are being re-allocated across the country to try to address some of the pressing needs of the unsheltered population. Congress has passed the CARES Act, allocating a much higher than normal sum to the Emergency Solutions Grant program (ESG-CV). While this funding is coming (and is essential as other sources have run their course over the last two-plus months of supporting our increased operational costs), we need YOUR help today to be able to support the needs of this community during this ongoing crisis and what now must be our new normal.
So we are here, once again, asking that you continue (or begin) to support us as an agency, and the all of the neighbors that we serve. Flagstaff Shelter Services works with some of the most vulnerable individuals in our community, and something that we have seen over and over in the past months is that we are only as strong and as healthy as the most vulnerable among us.
Ross Altenbaugh is the executive director at Flagstaff Shelter Services, the largest emergency shelter in northern Arizona. The nonprofit is open around the clock to anyone in crisis, regardless of faith, mental health or sobriety. In addition to offering emergency shelter for individuals, the organization also provides permanent, stable housing to families experiencing homelessness. An average of two families a week are moved into permanent housing and more than 85 percent of them do not return to homelessness.