Advocacy groups merge to improve affordable housing, alleviate homelessness

A line of homeless people waits outside of the Human Services Campus at Madison Street and 12th Avenue near downtown Phoenix. (Craig Johnson/DD)

The Arizona Housing Alliance and the Arizona Coalition to End Homelessness agreed to merge on April 18.

They hope together the two organizations that have similar goals to advocate on state and federal level for affordable housing legislation to help alleviate homelessness.

Joan Serviss, the executive director for the Arizona Coalition to End Homelessness, said this merger will lead to a “louder amplified voice at the local, state, and federal level.”

She went on to describe the merge as a “holistic approach to ending homelessness and providing affordable housing.”

The Arizona Coalition to End Homelessness is an advocacy organization consisting of more than 55 direct service organizations. The coalition aims to address the issue by advocating for solutions on all levels of government and works to end the root causes of homelessness through increasing awareness, assisting community, as well as training and education.

The Arizona Housing Alliance started as a grassroots organization with a six member volunteer board to a statewide coalition with more than 200 members whose long-term goal is to provide all Arizonans with a quality, affordable home.

A document detailing the specifics on the merge explained the merger came to be because both organizations share similar goals and have worked together for many years through state legislative advocacy. They hope working in correlation with one another will lead to greater impact and a shared focus on affordable housing. This will more effectively cut down on the homelessness population.

Valerie Iverson, executive director for the Arizona Housing Alliance, said the effect the merger could significantly help the homeless community in giving them more dignity.

“When people live in stable homes, children achieve more in school, families are stronger, and seniors and people with disabilities live with dignity,” Iverson said. “All Arizonans should have the opportunity to live in a safe and affordable home.”

As a combined organization it would achieve greater operating efficiency and may be able to appeal to more funders as a stronger and more effective organization.

“The merger also is a ‘lead by example’ effort whereby we all need to join forces and work together to accomplish these goals,” Iverson said. “The merger will emphasize that the cornerstone to ending homelessness is to ensure everyone has a permanent home.”

The two organizations agreed on the merge on April 18, now they are waiting for it to be accepted by the Corporations Commission. From there they will go on to develop a strategic plan to ensure the newly formed organization is successful.

“Not only is this a cost-effective way for society to address this problem, it’s also the right thing to do,” Iverson said.

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