COTTONWOOD -- The City Cottonwood Council Tuesday approved a $2,000 contribution for a temporary shelter program, though they discussed other concepts and the talk seemed to indicate that the city will become more involved.
Mayor Diane Joens said a recent meeting with members of the Homeless Coalition discussed panhandling, and getting other mayors involved in the issue. "All have homeless in our midst," she said. "People are really concerned on Facebook, but how many get out their checkbook?"
Cynthia Strom of Clarkdale and Joy Mosley of Cottonwood are leading the One Person, One Night project. Donations are accepted to pay for motel rooms, providing shelter and saving lives on nights that reach 32 degrees and colder. In Flagstaff this week, Catholic Charities there found two people who had died of exposure and another homeless person died from exposure in Cottonwood in November.
Strom said six motels are now participating. The project provided shelter for 23 people in November and 27 in December. The weather service predicts 51 freezing nights this winter, with perhaps more because of a deep El Nino.
Darlene Boudreau of Old Town Mission said she is watching an Albuquerque model, which provided a $50,000 grant to give panhandlers day jobs in public works, paying $9/hour. The program would allow the city to hire 10 people a day, twice a week.
Boudreau said she recently encountered a woman who didn't know what to do and was prostituting herself for money.
City Manager Doug Bartosh says the newspaper had mentioned that people complained that a church which wanted to help ran into compliance roadblocks with the city. He said staff is looking into that church participation, "but we don't have enough information yet."
"It is going to have to be a multi-pronged solution," said Mayor Diane Joens. "We are not going to find an easy solution."
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