Arizona Contract Helps Launch Homeless Workforce Program

Last updated Oct 23, 2023  |  Published on Nov 22, 2019
by Anna Bielawski

Knowledge Services’ varying contracts across the public and private sectors afford unique opportunities for State agencies and organizations to work together towards a common goal.

Recently, our State of Arizona program team was able to partner with the City of Tempe and the Tempe Community Action Agency (TCAA) through the help of a current program vendor, Corporate Job Bank (CJB). Our partnership was formed to reintroduce their community’s homeless population back into the workforce.

The City of Tempe had been struggling to fill maintenance and groundskeeping positions and TCAA, who provides Tempe residents with a variety of benefits including a year-round Interfaith Homeless Emergency Lodging Program, I-HELP, was consistently looking for employment opportunities for their program participants. CJB has a long-standing relationship with both the City of Tempe and TCAA, and knew their needs complimented each other well. As a current program vendor, CJB also knew they would be able to work together more easily by utilizing the Knowledge Services State of Arizona contract and program team.

In 2018, a total of 552,830 people nationwide were experiencing homelessness on a single night. This represents 17 out of every 10,000[1] people. In Arizona alone, 9,865 people were experiencing homelessness, equating to 14 out of every 10,000[2] people.

“Josh Leopold, a researcher at the Urban Institute, estimated that about 25% of the homeless population is employed, while Megan Hustings, Director of the National Coalition for the Homeless, says that between 40 and 60 percent of the homeless population floats in and out of full-time and part-time work.[3]

Specifically, in Tempe (East Valley), the city’s unsheltered homeless population reached a total of 202 individuals in 2017[4] and had the second largest unsheltered homeless population after Phoenix. Determined to end homelessness, Councilmember Randy Keating brought the original concept for the Tempe Works program to the Tempe City Council. His plan combined part-time city employment, housing, and social services to assist individuals in the city.

TCAA works to alleviate hunger, poverty, and homelessness through programs that range from taking care of basic needs to building economic stability. TCAA’s back-to-work program helps those who are homeless (or on the verge of becoming homeless) to re-enter the workforce. TCAA’s I-HELP program serves approximately 800 men and women a year, some of whom are preparing for reintroduction into the workforce. The Tempe Works program is made possible by the partnership between the City of Tempe, TCAA and its I-HELP program, and Corporate Job Bank.

In January 2019, Tempe staff and volunteers counted 373 people experiencing homelessness[5], up from 276 the previous year, during the annual Point-In-Time Homeless Street Count. Maricopa County as a whole showed 6,614[6] people experiencing homelessness, an increase of 316 people from 2018. That overall number had climbed for six consecutive years. Tempe’s City Council has approved an additional investment in FY 2019-2020 to expand the Tempe Works and continue its efforts.

Contracts such as the State of Arizona MTS-MSP: Multi-Temporary Staffing Services Managed Services Provider, provide great flexibility and ease of use for eligible organizations. Quasi-agencies, cities, municipalities, and universities are eligible to use statewide contracts to better address the unique needs within their communities.

“There are so many positives that come from staff augmentation and MSP programs working together in a true partnership with our clients,” stated Knowledge Services Program Manager for the State of Arizona, Kari Freidus. “One of which is being able to provide focused, concentrated efforts on our client’s impactful initiatives, just like in the City of Tempe.”

Having worked with TCAA for a number of years, CJB was instrumental in providing support as Knowledge Services onboarded the City of Tempe candidates. “We place extreme value on the partnerships we’ve created between our vendor communities and MSP programs,” stated Bill Evans, Vice President of Professional Services at Knowledge Services. “Without Morris at CJB, we never would have known of the opportunity to assist the City of Tempe with its unique workforce need or impactful efforts to end homelessness in their community.”

The partnership between all entities alleviated struggles for both cooperatives and “was a great way for a temporary staffing agency to be involved in the city we [TCAA and CJB] are based in,” stated Morris, spokesperson for Corporate Job Bank (CJB). “[These partnerships] are making a positive impact on the homeless population and the City of Tempe.”

In partnership with TCAA, the City of Tempe was able to utilize this contract when their previous contract expired. This allowed them to avoid the long process of going out to bid, which would have delayed services to their homeless population. Candidates were sourced to fill the open positions within the City through TCAA’s back-to-work program.

One gentleman in particular selected for the program by the City of Tempe’s HOPE homeless outreach team was Ron Ackerman. He was hired part-time in the city’s parks department and helped into housing by the HOPE team. Ackerman quickly climbed the ladder and moved from custodian to a member of the team overseeing maintenance of park infrastructure citywide. He now works 40 hours a week and pays the rent for his own apartment. He told the city that the Tempe Works program has changed his life and calls his fresh start a blessing.[7]


[1] National Alliance to End Homelessness (2019).  State of Homelessness [online]. Available at:

[2] National Alliance to End Homelessness (2019). State of Homelessness – State of Arizona [online]. Available at:

[3] Axios (Dec. 2017). The working homeless isn’t just a tech bubble problem. [online]. Available at:

[4] Maricopa Association of Government (August 2017). Point in Time Homeless Count Analysis (pages 8-9).