William Charles Tinker wtinker@metrocast.net
Sun, 18 Sep 2005 03:31:43 -0400

Director to bring unity to campus for homeless


William Hermann
The Arizona Republic

Sept. 18, 2005

The finishing nails are being hammered in and final dabs of paint applied to
the new Human Services Campus for the homeless in downtown Phoenix, and
though there is still $5 million of the total cost of $25 million to raise,
campus officials are relieved that their first director is a bargain.

His salary: $1 a month.

For 30 years, Valley businessman Mike McQuaid has been a successful
commercial real estate developer, and for 20 years he has been a volunteer
helping the chronically homeless. For the next year he will be the first
managing director of the new downtown campus, opening in November.

The 11-acre campus at 11th Avenue and Jackson Street brings together on one
site six agencies that help the homeless, as well as representatives from
state, county, city and private agencies. And someone needs to coordinate
the work of all those agencies.

"I'll be acting much like the general manager of a partnership," McQuaid,
60, said. "I'll be in charge of overall operation of the campus and
coordinating, mediating, reconciling the six different entities that will be
on the campus. And I'll be making sure the representatives from the various
agencies work smoothly with everyone else."

Meshing many entities and people into the "big picture" of helping the
homeless is what the new campus is all about and why McQuaid's job is so

Until now, homeless people in the Valley had to go to many different
agencies to find help. Often the challenge of going from a shelter to a
clinic to a job placement office to a housing agency is simply too much for
people who may suffer from mental illness, substance abuse problems or both.

"The big lesson for people who help the chronically homeless has been that
you need to concentrate your help in one area," said Mark Holleran, director
of the Central Arizona Shelter Services emergency shelter. "We've learned
you need to offer a sort of 'one-stop shopping' approach. You provide a
comfortable place to get off the streets, provide food, medical care,
substance abuse and mental-health counseling, housing advisers . . .
everything and everybody in one place."

But having several agencies in one place means "you need an experienced
manager to coordinate all the efforts," Holleran said. He added that the
CASS board of directors hopes to raise the remaining $5 million to pay
building costs, "within a few months."

And since fund-raising efforts are ongoing, and the agencies at the new
campus operate on tight budgets, McQuaid's offer to work essentially for
free was, the head of the CASS board of directors said, "The answer to our

"Having Mike McQuaid step forward was a godsend," Portia Erickson said. "We
are in a situation where we have to pull a lot of diverse groups together,
groups with different funding sources and missions and we didn't have that
coordination figured out."

She said McQuaid's experience in coordinating complex real estate deals made
him perfect for the demands of the manager's job.

"We need practical decisions made: Who will be where? How do they
communicate? How are expenses shared? Mike has that expertise. When (at a
board meeting) he said he'd do this, and for a dollar a month, suddenly
purses and wallets flew open and dollars were slapped down on the table so
fast I think we doubled his salary in about 30 seconds. It was very cute."

McQuaid's business experience is considerable. He graduated from Arizona
State University's business college in 1967 and soon after opened an
insurance agency with partner Jim Whitehead. The two ventured into
commercial real estate investment and development, which including buying
lots and selling them to home builders and buying corner lots they sold to
retail outlets.

McQuaid is reluctant to talk about the extent of his financial success over
the past several decades, but he said working for $1 a month for the next
year "will not be a problem."

McQuaid said he comes to his new job with a sense of mission born about 20
years ago when he brought one of his two sons' church confirmation groups to
do community service at the Andre House soup kitchen in downtown Phoenix.

It was, McQuaid said, a life-changing experience.

"I was very taken by the plight of the homeless," McQuaid said. "But what
really attracted me was the dedication of the small group of volunteers that
would do an evening meal for the homeless people. I was very inspired,
touched by how much so few did."

So McQuaid became involved in the day-to-day operations of Andre House.

Soon, McQuaid was serving on the board of directors; then his concern for
the homeless, and his expertise in commercial real estate, led him to become
one of the founders of Helping Hands Housing, a housing development in
central Phoenix that provides 38 apartments for low-income families.

"When you work with the homeless, you figure out that you need to get them
mental-health counseling, help with drug or alcohol abuse, but then the
critical need is housing," McQuaid said. "You get them to come in off the
streets, help them with their problems, and then get them into a decent
place to live. That's vital. That makes the difference that changes lives."

McQuaid said that continuum of care which results in decent housing will be
the goal of the new campus.

"For the first time ever you'll see how the collaboration of a lot of
different entities from public, private, faith-based and non-profit sectors
can work together to create a place that will help homeless people get away
from living on the streets and get them to get into housing," McQuaid said.

"I'm hopeful we'll create a model that can be replicated in other
communities in our state and be a model for the country."