MESA, AZ — As the temperatures go down, more people living on the street are looking for shelter.
One Valley senior said she couldn’t take it anymore.
While she’s safe in a Mesa hotel room now, Marylyn knows at any time that could change and she’d be back where she never wants to be again.
She is one of the new Valley unhoused. It’s a growing number of people who have jobs but still can’t afford the high housing costs.
Barely getting by, any change can put them on the streets.
Marylyn says for her, it was a missing paycheck from her sales clerk job. She says it caused her to lose her car and her apartment.
“They locked me out because I didn’t make a payment,” she says.
With no relatives here and nowhere to go, Marylyn says she wandered parts of Tempe and Mesa.
As temperatures dropped, she had no coat and no blanket and was trying to find comfort behind a gas station.
“The manager said he’d been looking at the camera and I couldn’t stay all night there,” she says.
Marylyn says she ended up just walking around all night.
She says she lost count of how many nights she’d spent outside. She was scared, hungry, and in pain.
“I was getting cold. My feet was hurting real bad,” she says.
And as a senior, she knew she couldn’t last long.
“I just never gave up. I just kept on believing I could get help,” Marylyn says.
And that’s where her story changes.
Marylyn let me know, calling us from the street and desperate for help.
Our Let Joe Know/Better Business Bureau volunteer Madina took on that paycheck issue with her employer and we started working on her more immediate needs, like clothing.
We asked St. Vincent de Paul to get involved.
CEO Shannon Clancy and workers started putting together a bag of clothes for Marylyn.
Clancy showed me half-empty shelves saying the need for help is great. That means there’s also a big need for donations.
“This is a great opportunity this time of year when people may be cleaning out their closets, might be getting new things for the holidays,” she says.
In the bag for Marylyn was a coat, a new blanket, a scarf, and more.
I took that bag from St. Vincent de Paul in Phoenix, and delivered it to Marylyn in Mesa. She first tried on that coat and it fit very well.
Lindsey Balinkie, who is with the city of Mesa, was also with Marylyn talking about food services that were available.
When Marylyn called us from Mesa, we reached out to the city’s Off The streets program.
“When we received the call from you, they were able to call her directly and find out where she was, make sure she was able to come here, and actually go and pick her up,” Balinkie says.
As part of Mesa’s partnership with the non-profit Community Bridges, Marylyn is able to stay at a hotel.
It’s a limited time, but Balinkie says the Off The Streets program is designed to do just that — keep Marylyn off the streets.
“Help connect her to housing in this case. If she’s looking for employment, we have a workforce center in Mesa,” she says.
And Marylyn does want to continue working.
She calls all of the help her new beginning.
“I feel good because it helped me get off the streets and everything,” she says.
We want to extend a big thanks to Suzanna Stanton, ABC15’s Community Relations Manager, who was a huge help here.
You can donate clothing items to St. Vincent de Paul at their main office in Phoenix or any of their thrift stores.
They could use any clothing donations, especially men’s pants (size 32 and greater) and men’s shoes.
As for the paycheck issue with Marylyn’s employer, we’re still working on getting her that money.