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Homeless census examined

November 28, 2018

Bullhead City — There were 37,404 adults and children that experienced homelessness in Arizona in 2017, according to an Arizona Department of Economic Security report.

“We do a census once a year to see how many homeless we have in the city,” said Robert Brandefine resource manager at the Guardian Foundation. “Last year the number of homeless we had in the area was 95, which it came to be about 60 percent men and 40 percent women.”

Just under 61 percent of people experiencing homelessness, 335,038 people, were men, and 39 percent, 215,709 people, were women, according to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Community Planning and Development’s 2017 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress. People staying in unsheltered locations were more likely to be men, 71 percent, while people staying in emergency shelters or transitional housing programs were somewhat more likely to be women (55 percent).

Through the local census, the Guardian Foundation found that the age demographic of the homeless in the area was between 20 and 70 years of age.

According to the AHAR, homeless under the age of 18 made up 28.6 percent, 18 to 24-year-olds made up 8.8 percent and over 24 years of age made up 62.6 percent.

“Sometimes we do see younger people,” said Brandefine. “In one instance, we helped an 18-year-old girl who was pregnant to find housing.”

The 2018 Point In Time count, or the number of sheltered and unsheltered homeless persons on a single night in January, for Mohave County totaled 521 adults without children who were sheltered in an emergency situation, 131 in a transitional situation and 974 unsheltered.

The number of individuals ages 18 to 24 who were sheltered in an emergency situation was 44, in a transitional situation was seven and unsheltered was 69. The number of individuals over the age of 24 who were sheltered in an emergency situation was 477, in a traditional situation was 124 and unsheltered was 905.

“We have a slogan at the Guardian which is that ‘we don’t want anybody to go to bed hungry,’” said Brandefine. “We try to help everyone that we can because we know that a lot of people who are homeless are there because they are going through a rough spot in their life.”

According to the PIT count for Mohave County, there is a total of 519 (emergency, 216; transitional 36; unsheltered 267) women and 1093 men (emergency, 305; transitional, 95; unsheltered, 693). In regards to ethnicity, the largest homeless population is Non-Hispanic/ Non-latino with a total of 1,364 (emergency, 425; transitional 109, unsheltered, 830).

Homelessness can effect people from all backgrounds, including those with military backgrounds.

According to the AHAR, on a single night in January 2017, 40,056 veterans were experiencing homelessness in the U.S., just over nine percent of all homeless adults.

“There are quite a few of homeless veterans in the area,” said Brandefine. “There’s a number of reasons why they are in their situation, sometimes they don’t follow up with their benefits or sometimes they come into town and don’t know what rescuers we have. When we come across a homeless veteran we point them to the appropriate agencies for them to help them better. Sometimes homeless veterans that are here would rather not even deal with the system and would rather be on their own without any rules.”

The AHAR reported that in the state of Arizona there are about 970 homeless veterans.

“In 2017 we served 198 veteran households and out of those 171 were homeless,” said Mark Tierce, Mohave County director of the Veterans Resource Centers of America. “We are a full resource center that helps veterans get employment, help with their social security, we help them apply for their veteran benefits and much more.”

One program, geared toward keeping veterans off the street, run out of the Veterans Resource Center of America Bullhead City location is the Supportive Services for Veteran Families.

“Through the SSVS we help veterans with housing by either placing them in a house or preventing them from getting evicted,” said Tierce. “In Mohave County since 2013, we have housed 956 veterans.”

The Arizona Department of Housing PIT for Mohave County identified 277 total homeless veterans of which 170 were unsheltered. The figure included eight veteran family households, with 13 additional non-veteran family members. The majority of homeless veterans, 88 percent, were men, of which 62 percent were unsheltered. Women veterans were the remaining 12 percent, with 53 percent unsheltered. Thirty-four percent of homeless veterans also met the definition of chronic homelessness and the vast majority of those were unsheltered.

“We consider a person to be a chronic homeless if they have been homeless for 12 or more months and if they’ve had more than 3 episodes of homelessness in the past year,” said Tierce. “But a lot of them are here because they’ve lost a job and aren’t able to find one or because they fall behind on their rent. When the veterans come through our doors we do the best we can to get them back on their feet and get their questions answered as best as we can.”

To ensure funding is used adeqautely, veterans must meet certain criteria for aid, Tierce said.

“There are three requirements that veterans have to pass. First is they can’t be dishonorably discharged, second they have to make below 50 percent of the average median income and they have to be homeless or at risk of homelessness,” he said.

Bullhead City Veterans Resource Center is located at 1343 Hancock Road and can be reached at 928-444-1135 or through email at navrc@vetsresource.org.

This is the first story of the “Homeless in the Tri-state” series. See next Wednesday’s Daily News for a look at how many children are homeless or at risk of homelessness in the Tri-state.

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