Putting a number on Verde Valley homelessness

Barbara Amato, who administers the McKinney-Vento Homeless Act in the Cottonwood Oak Creek Schools, said she has identified 42 children in the district who would fall into the homeless category. Thinkstock.com

Barbara Amato, who administers the McKinney-Vento Homeless Act in the Cottonwood Oak Creek Schools, said she has identified 42 children in the district who would fall into the homeless category. Thinkstock.com

With the summer count now all tallied, the Verde Valley Homeless Coalition is now preparing for its winter count scheduled in mid-January.

Eliza Louden, chairman of the Coalition, said the total Verde Valley Homeless summer count totaled 75 people who lack basic shelter.

Barbara Amato, who administers the McKinney-Vento Homeless Act in the Cottonwood Oak Creek Schools, said she has identified 42 children in the district who would fall into the homeless category

Twenty people need to be trained for the Point in Time Winter Count.

The HUD Point-in-Time tally is a count of sheltered and unsheltered homeless persons on a single night in January. HUD requires that Continuums of Care (such as the Verde Valley Homeless Coalition) to conduct an annual count of homeless persons who are sheltered in emergency shelter, transitional housing, and Safe Havens on a single night. Continuums of Care also must conduct a count of unsheltered homeless persons.

The Arizona Department of Housing uses a standardized two-page questionnaire to survey the homeless in their area. That questionnaire asks 'where did you sleep last night;' 'how long have you or your household been without a home on a continuous basis.'

Louden said the area statistics show that the most common contact was a single adult (71.15 percent), who was older than 24 (80.34 percent) and male (70.11 percent). That average homeless person was homeless most often either 1 to 6 months (21.39 percent) or more than two months (28.53 percent).

The average subject was either camping, living on a street or under a bridge (22.53 percent) or in a vehicle (17.83 percent).

Often the homeless person suffered substance abuse (26.09 percent), mental health issues (25 percent), chronic healthcare (17.96 percent), post-traumatic stress syndrome (8.5 percent), developmental disabilities (4.98 percent) or HIV (.36 percent).

Louden said based on past counts, the people in the Cottonwood area stay in the area rather than move between summer and winter locations.

She said this year the Homeless Coalition hopes to not only count the homeless, but to attempt to house those at the most serious risk whenever money is available.

Louden said the bi-annual counts are a good opportunity to know people experiencing homelessness first hand.

Anyone who would like to volunteer for the count beginning the last week of December is asked to contact Eliza Louden at Catholic Charities, elouden@cc-az.org or call 928-592-3932.

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