Man's death puts renewed focus on plight of homeless (with video)

Tent sites used by homeless people in the Cottonwood area Monday morning were clean and neat, but  some were covered in extra blankets with the cold weather. VVN/Vyto Starinskas

Tent sites used by homeless people in the Cottonwood area Monday morning were clean and neat, but some were covered in extra blankets with the cold weather. VVN/Vyto Starinskas

COTTONWOOD -- The Verde Valley Homeless Coalition is formalizing its organization to satisfy state and federal agencies' requirements and broaden participation.

While daytime services have long been provided by the Catholic Charities through the Loft, at their Main Street offices and the Old Town Mission on Pinal Street, there has not, so far, been enough widespread community involvement to support an emergency shelter for the Verde Valley.

However, social media this past weekend stirred new energy for an overnight shelter with the exposure death of an area transient found Saturday lying in a vacant lot near the 300 block of South Main Street.

Cottonwood police say they are facing a common problem of the transient population in contacting next-of-kin when needed, and as a result have not released the dead man's name. Spokesman Det. Sgt. Tod Moore said police know the man's identity, but both parents died years ago and he has no siblings and there is little other information.

Catholic Charities Housing Case Coordinator Eliza Louden says, "It is clear that the VVHC cannot end homelessness in the Verde Valley on its own. This has to be a conversation on a bigger community level that actually involves more communities' representatives. However, we can't take it to that level until we as a Continuum of Care are completely united in our mission and our message."

Louden, who was named Chair of the Executive Committee during a November meeting, said the conversation needs to involve the entire Verde Valley.

The Coalition also wants to become "action focused" and needs more participants that can contribute time and energy on a consistent basis and take an active role in looking for funding."

Louden said the program needs participants from each community, not just Cottonwood, Clarkdale and Rimrock.

A meeting of the board Wednesday has been opened to the public participation at 1 p.m. at Spectrum Healthcare, 8 E. Cottonwood Street.

A separate meeting of the Coalition's Emergency Shelter sub-committee is scheduled Dec. 9 at 10 a.m. at the Cottonwood Public Library, 100 S. 6th Street.

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