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Homeless family finds hope as 12 News viewers offer support and UMOM offers shelter

After a story on Whelpley and her family, 12 News viewers reached out to the station to offer Whelpley's family gift cards, money, clothing, food and housing.
Credit: 12 News

PHOENIX — More than 470,000 Arizonans have filed for unemployment claim in the past six weeks, according to the Arizona Department of Economic Security

Amy Whelpley is one of many who have lost their job as the novel coronavirus stifles the state's economy. 

For almost two months, the mother of three and her two dogs have lived out of the family's 1998 burgundy station wagon after Whelpley lost her job.

According to the Arizona Office of Economic Opportunity, women are bearing the brunt of job losses since March. Female workers represent 57% of all new claims. Women represent 48% of the workforce.

PREVIOUSLY: Phoenix family living out of car as coronavirus stifles economy

After a story on Whelpley and her family earlier this week, 12 News viewers reached out to the station to offer Whelpley's family gift cards, money, clothing, food and housing.

One anonymous viewer reached out through Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego's office and put the family in a hotel for a week. 

"I would’ve never imagined nothing like this. If you would have asked me two days ago it would’ve been nothing like this,” said Whelpley. "Words can’t even describe it to be able to lay in the bed last night and stretch out.”

The family's story is part of a collection of hardships facing families here in the valley. 

"Right now as we are experiencing the Covid situation, we are seeing a lot of families, youth and single women, needing homes and needing a place to stay," said Mila Valle, Emergency Shelter Director for UMOM

Villa is passionate about getting the city's vulnerable off the streets. For the last eight years she's worked for the local non-profit shelter system that "restores hope and rebuilds lives by providing shelter, services and affordable housing for people experiencing homelessness." 

UMOM has five different campus locations in east Phoenix. The campuses house families, single women, single men and youth. They provide comprehensive services from access to healthcare to job training. 

The organization screens applicants through Maricopa County's Family Housing Hub. UMOM's family shelter currently houses 160 families but there is a lengthy wait-list and families could wait up to eight weeks for shelter. 

"They do get assigned a case manager that works with them, and establishes a housing and income plan," says Vella. In her eight years working with UMOM she's witnessed many families turn their live around. 

Amy hopes to be one of those families. 

"We're very excited, we’re ready for the challenge," Whelpley said. "Ready to start a whole new journey in our lives, a right journey on the right path and that’s because of all the amazing people that have helped us."

Here is a list of organizations helping homeless families that viewers can reach out and make donations: 

-Central Arizona Shelter Services  
-Circle the City