Arizona Lottery provides $50,000 to Tempe emergency shelter program

I-HELP (Interfaith Homeless Emergency Lodging Program) is mostly privately funded, relying on many churches and volunteers.
Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 9:13 PM MST
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TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - The Arizona Lottery has provided $50,000 to the Tempe Community Action Agency’s I-HELP program. I-HELP (Interfaith Homeless Emergency Lodging Program) is mostly privately funded, relying on many churches and volunteers. The program is unique in that there’s no one physical location for the homeless to stay at. Instead, there are about a dozen churches where people can stay the night.

One of those people last year was Phoenix resident Patrick Johnson after his landlord told him he had 30 days to leave his apartment. “What you’re going to eat, how you’re going to shower, where you’re going to sleep, you just don’t know every day,” Johnson said. “To me, that was a bad feeling. I didn’t like that. I was so used to living on my own. I don’t even live with roommates. I live by myself.”

But two separate stints in I-HELP allowed Johnson to get back on track. After a few months, he found a place to live in Phoenix. The program uses a rotating list of facilities like King of Glory Church in Tempe as a spot for 40 homeless people to spend the night, grab a hot meal or shower, and any employment assistance or health care services they might need.

“We like to see change start to happen in the first two weeks that they’re getting settled in and getting that case plan in place,” Tempe Community Action Agency CEO Deborah Arteaga said. “And usually over the course of about 90 days is when we’re able to help reposition the situation and help them into housing.”

Arteaga says the $50,000 will keep the program running smoothly as temperatures begin to rise. The Arizona Lottery’s John Gilliland says on their end, it was a no-brainer to get involved. “The Arizona Lottery exists to do good in our community. We do it all the time,” Gilliland said. “And we can accomplish our mission, by helping TCAA accomplish theirs.”

As for Johnson, he plans on moving from Phoenix to Tempe. Because while he may no longer be in I-HELP, he still wants to be a part of it. “I’ve never been in another program. This is the only one I’ve ever been in,” he said. “And it was fantastic.”

Those needing emergency shelter can visit the TCAA’s location at 2146 E. Apache Blvd in Tempe.