CG homelessness resource center to be opened in the fall

CASA GRANDE — A partnership among the city of Casa Grande and local service organizations is culminating in a resource center meant to assist those struggling with homelessness.

Casa Grande Mayor Craig McFarland announced Wednesday morning that the Peart Center, in Peart Park on Florence Boulevard will be the new home of a resource center. The center will be run by the Community Action Human Resources Agency, a nonprofit organization that assists people with access to job training, housing and food assistance.

At the center, which hasn’t been given a name, people will have an opportunity to speak with representatives and obtain services such as obtaining proper identification in order to look for jobs. McFarland said the center will serve not only those who already are homeless but also those who are on the brink, with the hopes of helping them before they “get to that point.”

The announcement of the center, which will have limited hours to start, is the culmination of a year-long task force implemented by McFarland last fall. The mayor’s task force on homelessness aimed to bring together leaders from various organizations to discuss ways to assist people. Task force members identified agencies that had various services to help and sought to organize resources together.

Donna McBride, a Casa Grande city councilwoman and task force member, noted: “Our work is just now starting. Our challenge is to tell us what you can offer.”

Task force member Mark Vanderheyden, also executive director of Seeds of Hope, said the resource center will be a “white flag” for those in need, saying by coming to the center they’ll be setting aside their pride to seek help. He said he hopes the center becomes a true gathering place where people can “form relationships.”

The resource center isn’t a homeless shelter, although a loose network of roving shelters was presented by McFarland, who said the idea would be to have churches open their doors a few nights a week to offer the homeless a place to sleep and shower.

The idea of the shelter needed more study, he said, to see how it might work in Casa Grande. The idea is based on some from Tempe and Chandler.

McFarland said he hopes the center will be up and running in December. The limited hours will begin with two days a week and will eventually be open three days. Times and days will be subject to change.

By HEATHER SMATHERS Staff Writer Aug 30, 2018

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