Located in urban areas and cities and towns throughout Arizona, emergency shelters are often the first point of assistance for individuals and families experiencing homelessness. Individuals and families connect with emergency shelters in a variety of ways depending upon their location and circumstances. Community Information and Referral (CIR) operates the CONTACS (Community Network for Accessing Shelter – www.cir.org) system which shares information regarding vacancies for individuals and families who call the CONTACS Homeless Hotline. Often emergency shelters serve a specific segment of the population such as single adults or families with children. In many communities, local law enforcement, local hospitals, behavioral health systems and other institutional service providers connect individuals and families in need of shelter with the most appropriate shelter resource. Family advocacy centers and domestic violence agencies also serve as key points of referral to emergency shelter programs.
Emergency Shelter programs generally offer the following:
- Shelter for up to 120 days. Shelters may make exceptions and allow longer stays depending upon the availability of resources and each individual’s needs.
- Case management or access to case management through a partnership with another local agency. Case Manager's primary goals in the short time available are to assess and stabilize immediate crisis needs (shelter, income, and stabilize any presenting conditions such as mental health).
- Assistance with the development of a case plan which at minimum includes securing appropriate income (either employment or benefits) and finding permanent housing. Other common goals include securing or replacing identification cards, engaging in mainstream resources or addressing other issues that may provide barriers to self-sufficiency including legal problems, substance abuse, and mental or physical health issues.
- Families with children are connected with childcare and schooling.
- Connections to the appropriate housing placement are made as quickly as possible and may include transitional, permanent supportive housing or affordable housing programs.
In Arizona, emergency shelter services are often coordinated within the three Continua of Care in Maricopa County, Pima County and the remainder of the state. In addition, the Arizona Department of Security Coordinated Homeless Program provides coordination and resource development. Specific information may be found here.