Chandler works to help city's most vulnerable population during COVID-19 pandemic

The city of Chandler headquarters is in downtown Chandler. (Alexa D'Angelo/Community Impact Newspaper)
The city of Chandler headquarters is in downtown Chandler. (Alexa D'Angelo/Community Impact Newspaper)

The city of Chandler headquarters is in downtown Chandler. (Alexa D'Angelo/Community Impact Newspaper)

The city of Chandler Community Development Division has been working to assist Chandler's most vulnerable populations and those experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic with several program changes implemented to safely serve the Chandler residents in need, according to a news release from the city.

The city has provided cellphones to clients for increased communication, daily wellness checks and continued progress toward housing and service goals, according to the city.

Officials have also placed three portable hand-washing stations and restrooms in strategic locations in partnership with local faith organizations. Two local nonprofits agreed to keep their restrooms open during their service hours; since many public restrooms are closed, the few that are able to remain open are the only access points for people who are experiencing homelessness.

“It’s critical to ensure residents without housing have access to the information and tools they need to stay healthy and safe,” Community Resources Manager Riann Balch said in a news release.

Chandler also entered into a partnership with Maricopa County, the cities of Tempe and Mesa, and Community Bridges Inc. to place the most vulnerable persons experiencing homelessness in an East Valley Hotel, according to the city. Through the agreement, the county is supporting the hotel and security, and the other partners are providing case management and three meals a day.

“We are fortunate for the relationships we have that allow us all to pull together in a time like this,” Balch said in the news release.

The city is also partnering with ProtectAZ, Haitian Disaster Relief of Arizona and the Salvation Army Chandler Corps to provide 100 COVID-19 tests for those experiencing homelessness. The free tests will be available starting at 7 a.m. May 8 at the Salvation Army, 73 E. Saragosa St., according to the city.

Additionally, the community development division staff closed a request for proposals to allocate up to $849,415 in Community Development Block Grant-Coronavirus funds from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. Proposals are currently being evaluated, and recommendations will be presented to Chandler City Council for approval May 14, according to the city.

According to the city, outreach and navigation services continue, and the city is distributing information and providing emergency supplies, including masks and hand sanitizer, as needed to persons experiencing homelessness.

”We take safety very seriously and have implemented new policies and procedures to protect ourselves and the people we serve in the field,” Balch said.

If Chandler residents see someone experiencing homelessness and in need of assistance, they are asked to call 480-782-4349 or email [email protected] and provide a description of the location, including cross streets and persons in need. The city’s community navigator will reach out to the individuals to provide information and services.