Helping Chandler’s most vulnerable in need SanTan Sun News

Helping Chandler’s most vulnerable in need

March 25th, 2021 SanTan Sun News
Helping Chandler’s most vulnerable in need
Community
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By the City of Chandler

Last year, life as we knew it changed drastically. Between virtual work or school and staying physically distant from one another, it’s all taken a toll.

For some, this pandemic was more than an inconvenience — it resulted in the loss of a business, employment, or a loved one.

Army veteran Nicholas Anderson reached “the lowest of the low.”

Originally from Sacramento, his job brought him to Chandler three years ago. Anderson was laid off due to COVID and for seven months, he was calling different agencies and organizations trying to get assistance.

Multiple calls made every month resulted in no assistance. After serving three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, he thought he had seen it all, but living off unemployment at $240 a week brought on an overwhelming sense of hopelessness.

Without friends or family in Arizona and late payment notices starting to pile up, Anderson was mentally preparing for living on the street. But he knew he couldn’t keep his two fur babies with him and the thought of giving up his cats was too emotional to bear.

That’s when he was referred to the Chandler Cares team – or as Anderson calls them, “the angels who saved my life.”

City staff from the Cares team work to assist residents who have experienced a loss of income, have unexpected expenses or are in need of food, medical, utility, rental or other assistance.

They also were able to make his case a priority as he was on the verge of being evicted.

Since Anderson didn’t have transportation and could no longer afford internet service, staff dropped off an application for assistance to his apartment and returned when it was completed.

By working closely with the City’s Cares team and AZCEND, Anderson received seven months of overdue rent payments and utilities – and a food box delivered to his door.

The financial assistance gave Anderson a “reason to start over and have a new lease on life.”

In late February, he got hired to work remotely for a Midwest IT company.

“From the beginning, the Chandler Cares team told me they were here to help me,” Anderson said. “The process was hassle-free and I can’t thank them enough for everything they did.”

Anderson is just one of the hundreds of people who have received assistance from the City of Chandler and its nonprofit partners, AZCEND and the Salvation Army Chandler Corps.

As the pandemic took hold, federal and local government, nonprofits and community advocates combined resources to assist Chandler residents in need.

Rental and utility help

Since last July, federal and local funds have been reallocated by the City of Chandler to AZCEND and the Salvation Army Chandler Corps.

Both nonprofits were able to distribute a combined $4.3 million in rent/mortgage assistance and an additional $1.5 million in utility payments to more than 2,100 Chandler households.

Another $56,000 went to pay delinquent water bills for 200 residential customers.

There are still additional monies that are in the process of being distributed through AZCEND and the Chandler Salvation Army.

Recently the federal government launched its Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which provided the City with more than $7 million for rent and utility payments.

City Council allocated the majority of the funds to AZCEND, with $275,000 funding the Chandler Cares team. These funds, which became available this month, can be used to pay up to 12 months of rent and utilities.

Both AZCEND and the Salvation Army staff are extremely busy talking with residents in need, walking them through the application process and distributing funds to those who qualify.

If residents are concerned that they don’t qualify for financial assistance based on income requirements, they still are encouraged to apply.

“The staff from our partner organizations are doing a great job of making sure they’re working with each individual household to determine what is the best course of action — what funds are available that they can qualify for and setting out a course for them,” said Neighborhood Resources Director Leah Powell.

If residents are still experiencing difficulty connecting with the City’s nonprofit partners, consider contacting the Chandler Cares team as they can assist with pre-screening applicants.

Landlords also may apply on behalf of their residents; however, they are encouraged to recommend their tenants connect with the Chandler Cares team to start the application process.

The City and its partners have until the end of September 2022 to use all $7,946,091 from the federal government’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program.

Information:  chandleraz.gov/WeCanHelp.

Operation Open Door

The City also approved a third extension to participate in the county’s program to provide temporary housing at hotel rooms for at-risk individuals and families experiencing homelessness.

Operation Open Door has provided a safe place for our most vulnerable population.

Community navigators that provide resources directly to people experiencing homelessness, along with the Cares team, have assisted 108 individuals, with 10 of them being veterans and 22 families with children.

This program is working — 47 of those helped through Operation Open Door have been transitioned to permanent housing from homelessness.

“Getting people into this environment where they’re in their own single room helps to reshape the way they’re looking at their lives,” said Powell.

Chandler Gives Week

City staff and the nonprofit community are committed to helping as many people in need as possible.

For the second year in a row, the City is celebrating Chandler Gives Week from April 5-10. For those who are fortunate to be able to give, consider donating to For Our City-Chandler online at secure.givelively.org/donate/care-inc/for-our-city-chandler.

Donations will be shared with all For Our City-Chandler partners, starting with the ones with the most immediate needs. Donations also can be given directly to a local nonprofit of choice.

For a list of Chandler nonprofits affiliated with For Our City-Chandler, visit forourcitychandler.org/giving-tuesday.

The Chandler Cares team consists of three City employees who are tasked with helping residents apply for assistance with providers. Their work helps Chandler residents who have experienced a loss of income, have unexpected expenses or are in need of food, medical, utility, rental or other assistance.

If you have questions related to where to go for help, qualifying for financial assistance, or need help with AZCEND’s screening process, the Chandler Cares team can guide you in the right direction.

The Chandler Cares Team has connected with more than 500 Chandler residents and has referred more than 430 residents to nonprofit agencies for assistance. They also are being proactive with educating and monitoring the court calendar for evictions — offering their service to keep as many people in their homes as possible.

If you need help or know someone who does, contact the Chandler Cares team at 480-782-4302 or chandler.cares@chandleraz.gov.

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