Plenty of desire to help; but no easy solutions to problem of homelessness

The Verde Valley Homeless Coalition is focused specifically on the search for a permanent emergency shelter in the Verde Valley. (VVN/Vyto Starinskas)

The Verde Valley Homeless Coalition is focused specifically on the search for a permanent emergency shelter in the Verde Valley. (VVN/Vyto Starinskas)

COTTONWOOD -- There is a lot of enthusiasm to find a solution to the tragic exposure death of a long-term area transient just off Main Street in Cottonwood Nov. 28.

Finding the answer is not easy.

A full crowd joined an executive meeting of the Verde Valley Homeless Coalition Thursday. Participants were eager to find that easy answer to a haunting problem that has dogged the organization for years.

A special sub-committee of the Verde Valley Homeless Coalition is focused specifically on the search for a permanent emergency shelter. Many of the group said they would attend that sub-committee meeting Wednesday, Dec. 9, 10 a.m., at the Cottonwood Public Library.

One newcomer to the group is Jeff Ross, who explained he has been documenting the homeless issue for years says. He said it all comes down to money to plug the gap. Temporary solutions, that even the Verde Valley is able to provide, don't close that gap for permanent shelter needs.

Some new participants said they represent a small community group in Sedona. Chair Eliza Louden suggested they become part of the larger Verde Valley group.

Other participants included Damien Browning, who operates Steps to Sober Living with two facilities in Cottonwood. Angie Lozano also operates a transitional living situation, but has opened up a facility to some homeless by herself. She said she is having a hard time getting people together and needs volunteer staffing. Lozano suggested that more people could be reached by more involvement in social media.

The One Person-One Night program provides limited motel rooms when temperatures fall to 32 degrees and below.

The "money" answer is one reason the group is becoming much more formalized, because it takes much more than just Cottonwood or any individual city or town, it takes the entire Verde Valley as a whole and more participants than Catholic Charities.

Catholic Charities has long provided leadership and offers a drop-in day center, The Loft, to allow people to use a computer, phone, take a shower and wash clothes.

The organization is looking for long-term participants to help solve the problem with regular involvement in meetings and action. A permanent board has now been organized to help realize a vision to work toward a permanent solution.

The new board includes Eliza Louden, Chair; Janet Conchy, vice-chair; Tina Haines, secretary; and community members Nancy Blood, Isiah Twolives, and Greg Hartz

The group is looking for people to represent Rimrock, Cottonwood, Camp Verde and Sedona.

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