Based in Phoenix, Arizona, Homeward Bound serves the unique needs of families experiencing homelessness with prevention, shelter and after-care programs.
Its homelessness prevention program, offered to the greater community, aims to keep families on the brink of homelessness together in their own homes by providing rent assistance, financial support and resource navigation. Its emergency shelter and transitional housing program operates on the Thunderbirds Family Village campus with 76 residential units and includes a licensed childcare facility, after-school programs, family library, teen center, employment lab, emergency pantries and on-site case management services. Once a family finds a home, Homeward Bound provides ongoing support through its after-care program to ensure they never face homelessness again.
A foundation for families
Starting out three decades ago from a lone single-family home, Homeward Bound quickly learned that providing shelter alone wasn’t a solution to family homelessness. Families require a host of wraparound services to get back on their feet and make the transition to stable housing.
In 2000, the nonprofit opened Thunderbirds Family Village, a facility in central Phoenix with 76 fully furnished apartments that offers case management, childcare, youth education and enrichment, financial coaching and workforce development. Its onsite amenities – everything from fresh food and groceries to mailboxes, laundry and fitness stations – ensure each family’s stay is safe, comfortable and empowering.
In 2021, Homeward Bound adjusted its approach to a housing-first philosophy, establishing an emergency shelter alongside its transitional housing to ensure a low barrier to entry. Homeward Bound also recently introduced a homelessness prevention program, providing similar wraparound services to families on the brink of homelessness before they lose their homes.
“It can be much more challenging to find a family a new home than to stabilize them where they’re already living,” says Homeward Bound CEO Sam Fowler.
“It can be much more challenging to find a family a new home than to stabilize them where they’re already living.”
–Sam Fowler, CEO of Homeward Bound
Meeting a growing need for homeless services
According to the Maricopa Association of Governments, between July 2022 and this past June, for every 10 people who found new housing, another 19 became homeless. By last count, 8,405 people were seeking help from homeless service providers in the county. Among those were more than 600 homeless families.
Homeward Bound provides many of these families the resources and services they vitally need. After securing an apartment in the Thunderbirds Family Village, each family is assigned a case manager, who helps them leverage the nonprofit’s resources to get back on their feet, secure employment and find permanent homes.
Once a family finds a home, case managers connect them with rent and utility assistance, as well as money for security deposits and moving costs. Families are also encouraged to participate in the nonprofit’s afterschool care program – which they can continue using for up to two years after transitioning from the Thunderbirds Family Village.
Homeward Bound’s programs have made a lasting difference. Since 1999, the nonprofit has worked with nearly 8,000 families, helping 85% of them find both employment and permanent homes.
Scottsdale-based agency Marsh McLennan Agency (MMA) has supported Homeward Bound for more than 15 years with volunteer work, fundraising, advocacy and service on the nonprofit’s board. The impact on families has kept them inspired. “Homeward Bound is dedicated to supporting the family unit as a whole,” says Julie Friedly, MMA senior vice president and a former chair of the nonprofit’s board. “Its services help break the generational cycle of poverty.”
Last year, the agency sponsored Homeward Bound’s Toast! fundraising event, where they had the chance to meet Amanda, one of the nonprofit’s former clients. Homeward Bound had brought Amanda into its housing facility with her three children. Amanda had a drug dependency and was leaving an abusive relationship.
The nonprofit provided her case management, parenting classes, diapers, food, childcare and access to youth programs. A high school dropout, Amanda completed her GED during her time at the Thunderbirds Family Village. She would later pursue higher education, completing her master’s degree.
Today Amanda works as a recovery counselor, helping women like herself find their footing and build to better lives.
It’s stories like Amanda’s that keep MMA committed in its support of Homeward Bound.
“Homeward Bound is dedicated to supporting the family unit as a whole. Its services help break the generational cycle of poverty.”
–Julie Friedly, Marsh McLennan Agency principal and senior vice president