Coalition works to establish summer refuge for homeless

The Verde Valley Homeless Coalition would like to lease part of this building for a daytime drop-in center at 14 South Main Street next to Circle K in Cottonwood. VVN/Vyto Starinskas

The Verde Valley Homeless Coalition would like to lease part of this building for a daytime drop-in center at 14 South Main Street next to Circle K in Cottonwood. VVN/Vyto Starinskas

COTTONWOOD -- The Verde Valley Homeless Coalition is holding its breath that it can get a daytime drop-in center for the homeless community as temperatures reach dangerously high levels.

The National Weather Service is predicting temperatures in excess of 100 degrees this week.

A homeless drop-in center won’t be considered by the Cottonwood Planning and Zoning Commission until July 16, according to Raena Avalon, executive director of the Verde Valley Homeless Coalition.

“It’s dangerous to be out. I mean we’re over 100 degrees,” explained Avalon, citing dehydration and stoke as primary safety concerns.

The group wanted to open the drop-center in June, but then planning and zoning “got in it,” she said. “We wanted to open June 15th. Now it looks like August 1st,” she said.

The homeless coalition wants to lease part of a building for a drop-in center at 14 South Main Street next to the Circle K with a $12,000 grant obtained from the Cottonwood City Council in June for that purpose, she said.

The building has air conditioning, Avalon explained, but it will need furniture.

“We’re excited,” she continued. “The Old Town Mission, Twice is Nice Thrift Store, Miracles Happen Thrift Store and Catholic Charities have offered us stuff to furnish it.” The coalition already has obtained a washer and dryer for the drop-in center.

Avalon said the group will also need volunteers to work at the drop-in center.

Homeless people are currently going to the Cottonwood Library or the Cottonwood Recreation Center to escape these dangerous temperatures, Avalon said. The drop-in center would offer an alternative.

Meanwhile, the coalition has opened a new service at Catholic Charities Community Services, 736 N. Main St, called the Front Door, which is a gateway for homeless people to find shelter and services.

The Front Door sees about three to five people a day and operates Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 to noon.

“It’s a one-stop place for the homeless,” who are seeking housing and services, she said.

The homeless people register at the Front Door and it puts them into a data base.  Homeless housing providers meet and discuss their cases and determine how they can help them.

Some of the organizations include Spectrum, Catholic Charities, Verde Valley Sanctuary, Angie’s House and others,

The VVHC has an agreement to use a building at Y.E.S., the Arc for a winter emergency shelter on Willard Street when temperatures drop below 35 degrees in the winter,

Avalon said the group is only trying to get the summer drop-in center approved at this point for the Main Street site and determine winter options in September.

The Planning and Zoning Commission’s conditional use hearing is July 16 at 6 p.m. and Avalon encourages people to come to the hearing in the City Council Chambers to support the VVHC’s efforts for the drop-in center.

Avalon said the $12,000 grant from the Cottonwood City Council is contingent on the group obtaining the conditional-use permit from the Planning and Zoning Commission.

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