PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) – A church parking lot serves a new purpose in Phoenix. It’s becoming a sanctuary for women and children living in their cars. “They’re with us from four in the afternoon to eight in the morning, and during those 16 hours, we’re giving them guaranteed safety and protection as best we can,” said Bob Hake, a pastor for Pure Heart Church.
An initiative known as Safe Lots, the parking lot of the Shepherd of the Valley UMC in Phoenix, will be converted into five covered shelter spaces for families in need. The program will help provide beds for kids, hot showers, food, and a place to do laundry. Families can stay at the shelter for up to three months, and it is completely free. “They just need a shoulder. They just need presence with them and around them to give them a little bit of a break, and that’s what we intend to do,” Pastor Hake said.
Each candidate is interviewed and vetted by staff. The ultimate goal is to give them a safe place to rest and get back on their feet. In Maricopa County, there are more than 5,500 unsheltered people, and many are living in their cars. Thirty-five percent of the unsheltered are women, and many of them are with children under the age of 12.
Safe Lots will be accepting their first group of five families starting Nov. 3. After 60 days, the hope is that they can expand the program to 7 days a week with over ten shelter spaces. If you’re interested in donating or know of someone in need, click/tap here.
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