The Diane and Bruce Halle Foundation Center for Women opened their doors for the first time in July 2017. It is the first and only fully-comprehensive shelter in Maricopa County designed specifically for single women experiencing homelessness. In the beginning, there were only two case managers to work with more than 100 women. Now, there is a team of 10 who support women through one-on-one case management, and an additional 16.5 support advocates. Working together, everyone at Halle engages in conversation about action plans and rebuilding community. To date, more than 50% of women who once stayed at Halle now have their own housing. Though the need is still great, every step taken is working towards ending homelessness in Arizona.
“We talk a lot about homeless men and homeless families, but how often do we talk about homeless women?” said UMOM New Day Centers CEO Darlene Newsom. “So, you can see why this is a happy day for our community: finally, in 2017, we have a full-service shelter for single women.”
For more than 20 years prior, the only option for single women experiencing homelessness was Watkins Shelter. It wasn’t all-encompassing, but it was a starting point. Before Halle Women’s Center came to fruition, homeless women seeking shelter were offered a place to sleep on a cot in a gigantic open room. There were only 30 showers for 140 women, and they would only receive one meal each day: cold cereal and coffee. Each morning, women were bused off-site at 5:00 AM, and were not allowed to return until they were bused back at 3:00 PM. The location of Watkins meant that women lived in constant fear of the threat of violence. There was no way for these women to connect to services or reintegrate into the community. Now, women can find hope, safety, and dignity at Halle.
A woman experiencing homelessness who is seeking shelter or services is welcomed into a beautifully refurbished motel. She has one or two roommates and they share a private bathroom; a luxury unknown when staying in an open room with 130 other strangers. She starts her morning with a hot breakfast before meeting with her personal case manager; they’ll be working together to find a stable source of income as well as a permanent housing solution. She’ll receive another two nutritious meals, lunch and dinner, and find an activity or group to participate in during the day. With community building activities such as board game nights, there’s always something to do to stay busy. This woman, who was once experiencing homelessness, has regained hope and a sense of purpose. She no longer lives in fear, but rather on a safe and secure campus. She’s reconnecting to the greater community and has an action plan in place to secure employment and stable housing.
Thank you for helping single women experiencing homelessness find new hope. Working together, we can end homelessness in Arizona!