The new chiller being installed at UMOM’s emergency shelter.

Last year, you helped us raise funds during our “Keeping it Cool” campaign, when the air conditioning units at UMOM’s emergency family shelter broke and needed to be replaced during our record-breaking summer.

Because so many families lost their homes after COVID-19 job layoffs, UMOM’s waiting list grew during the summer of 2020, one of the hottest on record for the Valley. It was also the deadliest: Maricopa County Department of Public Health reported 323 heat-related deaths last year, the highest number since the county began keeping track in 2001. More than half of those who perished in the heat were experiencing homelessness.

With the pandemic in full swing, closures at libraries, theaters and coffee shops gave people on the streets no place to seek respite from the heat. Your donation to replace the chillers last summer kept our clients and staff safe and cool at a time when we had little choice but to stay indoors.

Families come to UMOM to have a safe place off the streets…and protection from the Valley’s harsh summers while they rebuild.

Like Donny and Janice’s family.

With only a little money left after losing their jobs, they took what they had and put it toward a deposit on a rental home. Little did they know, the home didn’t actually exist; Donny and Janice lost all of what they had left to a rental scam.

Out of options, they moved into a 24-hour storage unit with their three-year-old daughter by day, cooking meals on a portable stovetop. Donny and Janice searched for jobs on their phones, bathing with a camping shower head and kiddie pool to get cleaned up for interviews. They slept in their car at night, even when temperatures never dropped below 85 degrees.

Homelessness is traumatic for families, especially young school age children: they are significantly more likely than kids who have not experienced chronic homelessness to have developmental and mental health issues throughout their lives (Source: Journal of the American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry, 2014).

Donny, Janice and their daughter lived in the storage unit for more than two months, until they were able to get a room at UMOM’s emergency shelter. Their case manager crafted an individualized plan for the family, and Donny was able to get a good job using the employment center’s services. Using their tax refund and money saved from working, Donny and Janice had enough to make a down payment on a new mobile home.

Your contribution now means families who come here today, and in the future, have access to a comprehensive slate of services to help them heal and pave the way toward a more stable life. UMOM families get a comfortable room, three nutritious meals a day, mental health counseling, specialized pediatric and adult medical care, as well as job development services and financial management tools for adults.

With your help, we are one day closer to ending homelessness.