Life at Flagstaff Shelter Services is busier than ever. We have successfully transitioned all of our clients looking for shelter into their own hotel rooms. This is the end of our second week of having four separate sites (three hotels and our shelter space) where our staff is providing essential services, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, to everyone who comes knocking.
This has been an unimaginable strain on our staff and agency as a whole. But guess what? It’s working. In our latest round of testing for COVID-19 for our clients and staff, the numbers of positive tests had reduced SIGNIFICANTLY from the previous round. This means that we are on the right track- that providing hotel rooms and finding permanent housing for our neighbors experiencing homelessness to quarantine themselves is the best and most immediate way for us to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our community.
And with our Hotel-to-Housing efforts still going strong, we continue to try to provide the best options for our clients who don’t have anywhere else to go during this uncertain time.
The difficulty we face now is sustaining our increased operational costs. The number of people coming to us for shelter is only increasing, and so do the number of rooms we have to rent. So thank you for continuing to stand by us. We need you. We are all in this together.
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.