Homeless services growing in Verde Valley

VVN/Jon Pelletier<br>
The Verde Valley Homeless Coalition met Wednesday.

VVN/Jon Pelletier<br> The Verde Valley Homeless Coalition met Wednesday.

COTTONWOOD -- Members of the Verde Valley Homeless Coalition gathered at the Guidance Center to update the various members of their current projects.

Troll Worfolk, who is leading a proposal for a "severe weather homeless shelter" described the gathering as something like a meeting of a business association, with a common purpose, from varying perspectives.

Worfolk said his program now has a small board. The board is planning a fund-raiser and will look for grants. He says the group is "fairly well organized but the biggest need is money."

The group is considering an annual budget of about $70,000 a year. About $45,000 will be earmarked for a paid manager who will do most of the day-to-day heavy lifting. "That one person is going to work their tail off," said Worfolk.

The idea is to serve the "recently homeless, people who have been homeless less than six months, people who are vulnerable who may not be familiar with keeping themselves safe at night." The organization believes there are usually 75 to 100 homeless people in the Verde Valley during the winter months.

The concept is to organize eight or nine "halls" around the Verde Valley to be used on a rotational basis for shelters at times when the weather is severe, either very cold or very hot. Vans would provide transportation to pick up the homeless and take them to the designated shelter. The rotation also prevents people from "camping out" at a shelter.

The proposed concept is based on a success story where Worfolk had volunteered in Simi Valley.

Eliza Pedersen of Catholic Charities spoke of the services of The Loft. The Loft, on the second floor of Catholic Charities, serves the needs of the homeless as a daytime drop-in center that is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from 1 to 5 p.m. Users may wash clothes, take a shower, use phones and computers and kitchen. In addition, the service provides clothing, camping gear, water, hygiene kits, information and referrals. It relies on donations and volunteers.

Eliza says the goal is to be open five days each week. Aug. 15 is the second anniversary.

Gary Rideout spoke of Adopt a Vet. The Marine and Desert Storm veteran created the company Vetraplex to support the needs of vets from a donation program. The program supports vets by selling support wrist bands at $5. He says there are 69,000 homeless vets in the U.S. and 18 veterans die each day, mainly from suicide.

The Copper Mountain Apartments affordable housing project on Lanny Lane in Clarkdale will make available 60 percent of its units for those with less than 50 percent of the area median income. Ten units will be set aside for homeless veterans, five of those for senior vets and five for those with disabilities.

The program is supported by a HUD Continuum of Care Award for Homeless Grant in partnership with the Verde Valley Guidance Center.

Joe Gatens of the United States Veterans Initiative, spoke of the annual Summer Count, an annual program to monitor homeless numbers and needs in the community.

Volunteers will be asked to sign up to survey food banks, emergency rooms, around the DES office and other common gathering places, such as around Powell Springs, on Page Springs Road and near 1000 Trails. They will often want to be near resources but they like isolation.

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