February 9, 2005
Some showed up Tuesday night with fears that dangerous homelessness was moving in next door. Others, to quell those fears.
Both sides met at the Ahwatukee Foothills Recreation Center to discuss nearby Mountain View Lutheran Church possibly housing a few homeless families for one week a few times a year.
Just after Christmas, someone anonymously distributed fliers to the surrounding neighborhoods with the message: "If you are concerned, you must act now."
More than 100 people attended, but the meeting was relatively calm.
Robert Rockwell lives in the Winnebago neighborhood and attends the church. He thought concerns about the program were isolated.
"The biggest complaint was written by an anonymous person," Rockwell said. "And you don’t pay much attention to them."
Mitra Khazai, president of Family Promise Greater Phoenix, made a presentation and answered questions for about an hour.
Family Promise screens the families and doesn’t allow any in with criminal backgrounds or drug, domestic violence or psychiatric issues, Khazai said.
Bob Mundy helps host the program at Shadow Rock United Church of Christ in Phoenix.
He also works with Family Promise to recruit new churches, including Mountain View.
"In the 16 to 18 hostings that we’ve had, we have had very innocent and virtually invisible families," Mundy said. "Everyone comes back to work at the church and no one knows they’ve been there."
Family Promise sets up homeless families to stay at various churches throughout the Valley.
The families are fed dinner, stay overnight, then are bused out by 5 a.m. to work or school.
Each family stays one week before moving to another church.
Families are allowed to stay in the program for 60 days.
Seventeen local churches participate.
Mountain View will vote on whether to join the program at a church meeting Tuesday.