United Way of Northern Arizona — A Crowning Achievement — UWNA Grant Helps Launch New Shelter Service

| June 28, 2022

UWNA Grant Helps Launch New Shelter Service

When COVID-19 made congregant shelter living a dangerous option for those experiencing homelessness, Flagstaff Shelter Services (FSS) stepped up by renting hotel rooms for their most immunocompromised clients. It was a successful – if expensive – way to continue to serve the homeless at the height of the pandemic.
 
It also led to an innovative idea: tap into funds available through the American Rescue Plan Act to acquire a hotel and rehab the units into emergency housing. With the support of the Arizona Department of Housing, FSS purchased a Route 66 hotel that years ago was the The Crown Motel and more recently operated as a Howard Johnsons.
 
Other groups helped support the launch of the new site, including the Forest Highlands Foundation and the Arizona Diamondback. A grant from United Way of Northern Arizona allowed FSS to hire a full-time manager for the new shelter complex, which is being renamed The Crown in a nod to the building’s history.

 

“This place, The Crown, is a love letter,” said Ross Schaefer, Executive Director of FSS. “A love letter to Flagstaff and northern Arizona as a whole. It is a letter to our neighbors who deserve the best from their community. A letter that says your roof status does not define you. It is one that says ‘we want you here – you are not invisible, or forgotten.’ But mostly, this letter is a promise. A promise of home.”
 
Since it opened in April, the 58-room shelter has served about 50 people, It is anticipated it will help about 1,000 individuals annually, not only with temporary shelter, but a series of wraparound service, such as medical care, behavioral health and rehousing services.
 
One of the first residents of The Crown was Berto, a Cuban refugee who endured three days on a raft in the ocean to come to the United States back in 1993. Berto lived and worked in Arizona for many years, but a series of events in 2007 left him without a home. For years he traveled from place to place, sleeping anywhere he wouldn’t be chased off.

 

On a cold day last year, a staffer from FSS convinced him to stay at the shelter on Huntington Drive.
 
Because of an array of underlying health issues, Berto was a prime candidate to transfer to the expanded emergency shelter at The Crown. He is now working with staff there to make a plan that will allow him to find a permanent home.
 
“I’m glad to be alive; I’m too old to be drifting,” he said. “It’s better here, not so crowded and it makes me feel better about what I do. There are people here I can trust. I see The Crown as a way to get out of all this and to find a place of my own.”

 

 

Happy Pride Month

June 28 marks the 53rd anniversary of the uprising at the Stonewall Inn, the event that sparked the modern fight for LGTB rights in the United States. During this Pride Month, we celebrate the LGTBQIA+ community and remember that Living United means embracing our diversity and opposing hate, prejudice and discrimination.

 

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If you don’t have time to spare, could you Step Up for Our Community with a donation to the United Way? Your gift can be earmarked for our Crisis Response Fund or to provide grants for vital programs in northern Arizona, like emergency shelter for those experiencing homelessness.

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Category: Child Welfare, Education, Educational Opportunities, General, Health, Programs, Resources

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