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Jacome Plaza Undergoes Miraculous Transformation
Jacome Plaza has experienced an incredible transformation this past week. The change is due to a pilot program between Downtown Tucson Partnership (DTP) and the City of Tucson. The metamorphosis is nothing short of amazing! The fully activated, welcoming and safe public space is the result of DTP’s park management proposal which includes enhanced beautification and maintenance, enforcement of rules, 24/7 security, extensive programming and marketing and an on-site homeless outreach program.
“Downtown residents, employees and visitors deserve an outdoor public space that is beautiful, safe and welcoming. A tremendous need was met generating a groundswell of support from the community, “ states Kathleen Eriksen, CEO of Downtown Tucson Partnership.
One week ago today, the plaza was being used as a homeless encampment; an average of 60 - 70 chronically homeless individuals called Jacome their home. That’s no longer the case. Homeless counts in Jacome have decreased by 75%. Where have they gone? Not on the streets, as Downtown street counts are down by 50%!
Homeless individuals are receiving services and are being placed in homes and shelters through a new collaborative program called DTP Connects. DTP Connects is connecting homeless individuals directly with service providers through on-site interviews and assessments by homeless outreach specialists. A table staffed with a service provider is stationed in Jacome Plaza on a daily basis. Program partners include Old Pueblo Community Services, La Frontera Center, and the City of Tucson.
People are interviewed onsite using the SPDAT assistance tool. Information and a sign-up sheet are available during un-staffed hours providing a constant connection between the individual and the services available. Tremendous progress has been made; 44 individuals were placed in homes and shelters in the month of November. On average, 2 people per day, are accepting services such as housing, behavioral and medical health care, food stamps, showers and clothing.
“Living on the streets is very dangerous,” states Terry Galigan, Chief Operating Officer of Old Pueblo Community Services, “We’re very concerned about threats of violence and the health and well-being of people. If they’re having mental health issues, the worst place you can be is on the street. Our main focus is a housing first model. We try to work with people where they are. We will help them find housing. If they have no money, that’s fine. We can take people right off the streets and put them into an apartment today. With this new partnership of going Downtown and having our staff work with the DTP, we think we can build that trust and help people make a decision, of their own free will to move out of Downtown, work with us, and get into their own apartment. “
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Jacome Plaza is now home to a number of programs and events. Celebrate Holidays at Jacome throughout the month of December; Photos with Santa, Outdoor Office, Picnic in the Park, Friday Food, Fun and Flix and Health at Jacome.
More information about programming and activities at Jacome can be found at www.downtowntucsonholidays.org