The Haven is a CASS facility that will provide 170 shelter units for older adults, age 55 and up, who are experiencing homelessness (rendering courtesy of Central Arizona Shelter Services).

In mid-April, Sunnyslope’s St. Vincent de Paul Dining Room board voted to transition towards closure as new shelters in the area near completion and the City of Phoenix brings a heat relief station to the adjacent Sunnyslope Family Services Center.

The dining room, which opened in 1996 on 10th Avenue south of Hatcher Road, has in recent years raised concerns among neighbors due to issues of litter and loitering created by its patrons.

News of the dining room closure, which will take place by the end of 2023 or early 2024 as area shelters serving those experiencing homelessness open, was enthusiastically welcomed by many neighbors and area business owners when it was shared at a May 11 meeting of The HUB (Hatcher Urban Businesses).

“I think people were appreciative of the fact that [St. Vincent de Paul] recognized the issues,” said Caroline Lobo, co-chair of The HUB. “The way they phrased it, the reason they were closing is they felt like that place was not a place of dignity anymore for their clients.”

“Essentially, our services in Sunnyslope are going to transition from our center on 10th to meal services provided at the CASS shelter, Project Haven, and the CBI Shelter, North Mountain Healing Center,” explained Danielle McMahon, associate chief operations officer at St. Vincent de Paul. “That transition will happen once both locations have fully opened. We don’t want to leave a gap in services for anyone that’s in need in the community. So, our kitchen will provide three meals a day, seven days a week at each of those locations. It will be, in total, around 270 folks across the two sites.”

She added, “Once those open, we’ll be partnering with them to help our guests find a solution in their shelters and hopefully get off the streets. It is the first time ever in the area where there are beds available. We serve the community of Sunnyslope, our guests are part of the community of Sunnyslope, and this gives them an option that’s close to home for them that hasn’t been there before.”

The Haven is a Central Arizona Shelter Services (CASS) facility that will provide 170 shelter units for older adults, age 55 and up, who are experiencing homelessness. The North Mountain Healing Center, a Community Bridges, Inc. (CBI) shelter, will provide 100 units. Both facilities were existing buildings that were acquired by the respective organizations to be rehabilitated into shelters.

“The property is currently undergoing renovations but our goal is to get our doors open as quickly as possible to help seniors in need,” said Dayna Gabler, chief development officer for CASS said of The Haven, which is located at 8152 N. Black Canyon Hwy. “Our plan is to open the first set of units in July 2023, which should be approximately 40 units, and be fully operational by November.”

“The Haven will be a closed campus model, meaning services are only available to shelter guests,” Gabler added. “The Haven model will have private rooms and shared living areas that are ideal for seniors because they are safer and less overwhelming than congregate shelter models. Our seniors will also be able to keep their pets, which can often be a deterrent to entering other shelters. All guests will be case managed and work directly with our housing team to help them find safe and stable permanent housing opportunities.”

The projected opening date for the CBI facility, located just north of Dunlap Avenue on 25th Avenue in a former Ottawa University building, is between January to June 2024, according to the last information available to a City of Phoenix Office of Homeless Solutions (OHS) spokesperson.

The city of Phoenix made a $4 million CARES Act funding investment in each of the facilities, with the Arizona Department of Housing investing $7.5 million in the CASS location and Maricopa County investing $6 million in the CBI location.

Another area shelter on the horizon is a new U.S.VETS facility, located just southwest of the intersection I-17 and Cactus Road and dedicated to housing military veterans. Although this shelter is not partnering with St. Vincent de Paul for meals, it will serve the Sunnyslope and surrounding areas.

Formerly a motel, the remodeling on the facility began in 2021 and the organization hopes to open its transitional housing this summer, between June and July, says Jennifer Gewarges, executive director of U.S.VETS-Phoenix.

“The transitional housing is about 162 beds. Within different programs that we have grants for and right now we have about 20 to 25 permanent housing unit,” Gewarges  said. “For the residential side, we still have to wait for the second phase, which includes staff offices.”

Despite all of this, it feels like one step forward, two steps back for residents and businesses along Hatcher Road. At the same May HUB meeting, the City of Phoenix announced that a new heat respite shelter will open across the street from the dining room.

“I think people are not exactly happy about it,” Lobo said. “They’re willing to give them an opportunity, but we’re very concerned that we are going to be inundated with people.”

She added, “We empathize with what the city is trying to do, trying to increase that touch point, so that we can get people to help that they need. So, we’re going to work with them to see where this takes us.”

Rachel Milne, director of the City of Phoenix Office of Homeless Solutions, broke down the details of the new shelter.

“We were lucky enough to receive a grant from Maricopa County for specifically for heat respite,” Milne said. “We wrote a grant to fund the heat respite center at the Sunnyslope Family Services Center.

She added that the respite area opened in the lobby of the center, located at 914 W. Hatcher Rd., May 15 and will be open from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, through Sept. 30. The respite area, which will have a capacity for up to 40 people, is partitioned off from the rest of the center, which will still provide its regular daily services to area residents.

The OHS is also partnering with St. Vincent de Paul.

“St. Vincent de Paul has a staff person who’s there throughout those hours, and then I have a staff person from my team from the OHS, a caseworker that’s there every day as well. We’re providing not only heat respite — water, the ability to get out of the elements for a little while — but also case management services, connection to other services if needed.”

She added, “We’ve got security there to make sure things operate smoothly.”

Milne also noted the “very dramatic change in approach” that the city has taken towards homelessness.

“Whereas prior we used to really rely on partners and contracts for shelter and housing and outreach, now, we are really taking on a lot of that ourselves. We are a direct service provider. We have case workers and case managers and navigators.”

She added, “The city’s been very focused on opening additional shelter beds. We have a total of 800 beds in various stages of development across the city. We’re really focused on that crisis intervention right now and getting those indoor places where people can be not only during the day but overnight and then move on their path to end their homelessness.”

Milne said that her office will continue to utilize its PHX C.A.R.E.S. (Community Action Response Engagement Services) outreach team to address encampments in the area, and encourages residents to contact them if they see issues in their neighborhoods. Call 602-262-6251 or visit


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