March 24, 2014


Stepping Stone apartments to host grand opening March 28

On Friday, March 28, from 10 to 11 a.m. at 1311 N. 14th Street,  Native American Connections (NAC) is hosting a grand opening celebration for Stepping Stone Place.  This newly constructed 82-unit, fully furnished one bedroom and studio apartments, was designed specifically to house individuals who are homeless and disabled.

A $12.5M development, Stepping Stone was financed with Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) through the Arizona Department of Housing, bringing $10.3M of private equity investment to Phoenix and creating over 200 jobs during a challenging housing market.   Local firms Chasse Building Team and Architectural Resource Team , partnered with NAC to build this quality housing community, while at the same time revitalizing the Central Phoenix neighborhood.  Additional funding came from U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), City of Phoenix, and the Federal Home Loan Bank Affordable Housing Program.

Confirmed guest speakers include:  Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton;   Phoenix District 8 Councilwoman Kate Gallego;  Field Office Director Tony Ramirez U.S. Housing and Urban Development;   Director Michael Trailor Arizona Department of Housing;   Arizona Market President Benito Almanza Bank of America;  Arizona Regional President Steve Johnson BMO Harris Bank;   CEO Merl Waschler Valley of the Sun United Way (VSUW).  The Honorable U.S. Congressman Ed Pastor is invited.  Stepping Stone residents will be giving tours and some will be available for interviews.

The development  of Stepping Stone was a “collective impact effort” explained Amy Schwabenlender, Vice President of Community Impact VSUW.   Merl Waschler, Valley of the Sun United Way President and CEO continues, “A roof over our heads and food on the table are the basic things we want for everyone in Maricopa County. BMO Harris Bank and our business supporters, donors, volunteers and partners will create a stronger community for us all.”

“Stepping Stone is another example of the effective, quality wrap-around services that Native American Connections provides to serve many of our community’s most vulnerable individuals,” commented Steve Johnson, BMO Harris Bank, Regional President. “Our partnership with them has been strengthened thanks to our strong ties with Valley of the Sun United Way. We are so pleased to play a part in helping to end chronic homelessness in our community.”

Native American Connections’ CEO Diana Yazzie Devine explains “Stepping Stone’s Permanent Supportive Housing model is a humane and dignified way to house homeless people, however, it also has a positive financial impact in the community by reducing the costs in other systems of care like hospital emergency rooms, police and fire first responders, and in the jails.”   Devine continues,  “NAC is committed to developing quality, safe permanent homes for homeless people that provide a broad range of resident services that empower, enrich and provide meaning to their lives.”

The Stepping Stone Grand Opening will also feature the unveiling of a mural by Native American artist Randy Kemp and several ASU students.  The contemporary mural is featured in the entry-way of Stepping Stone.   Kemp says of the NAC’s impact on the community, “Something amazing is happening here and it’s changing people; it’s allowing them to find stability and live their lives with a sense of security and purpose.”