'I Love Having A Bed:' New Permanent Supportive Housing Opens In Central Phoenix

By Mariana Dale
Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 - 2:12pm
Updated: Friday, January 19, 2018 - 11:11am

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A bed at Camelback Pointe
(Photo by Mariana Dale-KJZZ)
The single-occupancy rooms come with basic furniture.

Flute music floated on the brisk morning air in the courtyard of a new supportive housing community for the formerly homeless in Central Phoenix Thursday. Camelback Pointe is a 54-unit complex with in-house services such as case managers and life skills classes.

“If you think about it, it would be very hard to, say, get a job if you don’t have a regular place to take a shower, wash your clothes and get a good night’s sleep and prepare nutritious food for yourself,” said Supervisor Stefanie Smith.

Though residents may eventually move on to other housing, they are welcome to stay at the complex indefinitely.

“We’re here for as long as people need us and want us,” said  

Nonprofit Native Connections built the $13 million complex in collaboration with behavioral health provider Mercy Maricopa. The low-income housing tax credit was a major source of funding.

RELATED: Homeless In Plain Sight, KJZZ's special series on homelessness in the Valley

Native Connections CEO Diana Yazzie Devine said the group was founded to serve homeless Native communities, but has expanded to provide housing for a larger population.

“We feel we provide a culturally relevant place for people to receive services and to live,” Devine said, noting touches like Native American artwork and traditional healing services available at other locations.

Camelback Pointe residents pay up to 30 percent of their gross monthly income for rent. The difference and and costs for people who aren’t working is covered through a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“They’re not using emergency room services or in and out of the criminal justice system," Devine said. "They’re now here thinking about how they can contribute back to the community.”

LaRae Gonzales is one of the complex’s first tenants.

“I came in with a broke-down walker that was barely moving and some clothes,” Gonzales said, leaning on a walker in her living room. The walls are covered in pencil sketches drawn by a friend. She said after being homeless for about three years, she finally feels safe.

“I love having a bed. It’s so awesome,” she said, laughing. “I’m almost 50. It’s like sleeping on the ground was not easy. It was rough.”

An overdue hip surgery is in Gonzales’s future. She said with a place to call home, it’s easier to look ahead.

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