February 27, 2023

Anika Newland

New shelter for homeless and pets coming to Phoenix

A new seven-acre 280-bed facility, built partially from shipping containers, is scheduled to open this June, offering temporary housing for unhoused people —and their pets. 

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The Department of Homelessness Services is partnering with St. Vincent de Paul to provide employment opportunities for homeless individuals and their pets at the new shelter being built on 22nd Ave. and Lower Buckeye Rd.

Vice Mayor Yassamin Ansari noted that the facility will be built near city facilities and away from neighborhoods. “We’ve put out mass notice about it,” Ansari said in a community meeting.

Homelessness Services, “applied for a grant through the Arizona Department of Housing to ensure immediate employment opportunities for our shelter,” said Rachel Milne, Director of the Office of Homelessness Solutions.

Residents will have the opportunity to work under St. Vincent de Paul’s Neighborhood Brigade program. This program is put in place to offer in-house jobs for residents. In the case that a resident needs to leave for a job or an appointment, their pet will be looked after and cared for.

“One of the jobs that will be open will be manning the kennel,” Milne said.

A lot of shelters in the greater Phoenix area are not able to take in pets. According to Milne, this is one of the major reasons some unhoused individuals are not willing to go into a shelter.

“One thing that the city of Phoenix is committed to when opening new shelters or working with non-profits is to make sure we plan for that. We are pleased that many shelters, even some existing ones, have changed their policy on that,” Milne said.

Homelessness Services is working hard to break down every barrier possible in efforts to help transition unhoused individuals and their pets off the streets.

“Helping people get back on their feet and on the right path isn't a cheap venture, but it is something we are committed to doing. And we’re doing it diversely,” said Scott Hall, Deputy Director of the Office of Homeless Solutions.   

Pets bring a level of comfort, joy, and safety to unhoused individuals. According to the 2020 Maricopa County Point in Time Homeless Count Report, of the 3,767 unsheltered individuals, 237 had pets, including 35 service animals.

Alongside a high-quality life for pet owners, all residential pets will have their own benefits built into the shelter's budget.

“We've got a pet run, we've got kennels, we're planning on stocking washing stations and food and all kinds of stuff to make sure that the pets are able to live a good life as well,” Milne said.

The pets will be able to stay with their owners in both the non-congregate and congregate settings.

“We're truly trying to find every barrier for someone to come in and get off the street,” Hall said.

There will be certain protocols put in place to keep residents and their pets safe. Homelessness Services will be partnering with animal control to help assist in making sure all pets are up to date on their vaccinations.

“There will be rules for the animals, just like there will be rules for the individuals, overly aggressive pets will unfortunately not be able to remain in the shelter. But, we will certainly assist in any way we can to get them to proper training,” Milne said.

Homelessness Services is hurrying to finish the shelter by June of this year.

“We're working to make sure we're sheltering as many people as possible before the heat of the summer,” Milne said.