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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

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9/8/2012 3:11:00 PM
Homeless Coalition mulling a permanent shelter in Cottonwood
Catholic Charities Site Director Carol Quasula
Catholic Charities Site Director Carol Quasula

Jon Hutchinson
Staff Reporter


COTTONWOOD -- The Verde Valley Homeless Coalition Wednesday heard a proposal to acquire the now-vacant former Mingus Center building at 10th and Main Street as a permanent homeless shelter.

Catholic Charities Site Director Carol Quasula said she investigated the purchase when she heard the sale price had plummeted.

Catholic Charities currently operates The Loft drop-in shelter in the space above the charities offices on Main Street in Old Town. While it does not provide an overnight bed, homeless clients can make a hot meal, shower, do laundry, use a computer to apply for work or enjoy some social interaction.

Once a bowling alley, under the Mingus Center operation on about 1.2 acres, the building was converted to a so-called Title 36 facility, intended for mental health services. The Mingus Center has since moved to the Prescott area.

Quasula points out that the 14,700 foot building houses 36 beds with a petition in the center to - perhaps -- separate men from families.

The facility has a commercial kitchen, with medical room, offices and a conference room.

The local program director says Catholic Charities could purchases the facility, but the business officials say the local community will to find a way to fund ongoing operational costs. Quasula points out that her budget for homeless outreach of $70,000 could contribute to that.

Quasula says, "I really don't want it to be "a charities facility'; I would rather see it a "community facility.'"

Other members of the Verde Valley Coalition suggested that there may be an opportunity for grants, such as from APS for electricity or from cities and towns as part of their annual grants for outside services.

Quasula said it could make a "huge difference."

She is organizing a meeting at Catholic Charities for those interested in participating in the project. She is available at 634-4254 at extension 54117.



Safe Parking

Another concept that drew enthusiasm from the Coalition's members meeting Wednesday. The issue was agendized for discussion, but Harvey Grady of Cornucopia, a member of a forum on homeless housing, also suggested the concept was detailed in a Rolling Stone Magazine article on the decline of the Middle Class. The program located in San Diego and the surrounding county is coordinated by the local nonprofit New Beginnings Counseling Center and uses a series of parking lots.

The idea is that often many people do not have a home, but sleep in their vehicle and need a safe place to spend the night, often where an electric outlet is available.

According to the Rolling Stone article:

"Each evening, 150 people in 113 vehicles spend the night in 23 parking lots in Santa Barbara. The lots are part of Safe Parking, a program that offers overnight permits to people living in their vehicles. The nonprofit that runs the program, New Beginnings Counseling Center, requires participants to have a valid driver's license and current registration and insurance.

The number of vehicles per lot ranges from one to 15, and lot hours are generally from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Fraternization among those who sleep in the lots is implicitly discouraged - the fainter the program's presence, the less likely it will provoke complaints from neighboring homes and churches and businesses."

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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, March 7, 2013
Article comment by: How many churches have stepped up to the plate and offered assistance for this idea?

Will you let us know what local churches have offered to help? I'd like to thank them for their commitment to helping people, as Jesus would have wanted them to help, instead of building grandiose churches.

Any businesses offer an help? Let us know which ones so we can patronize them and thank them, too!


Posted: Thursday, March 7, 2013
Article comment by: Yeah right...

There are definitely a few exceptions, but for the most part the Verde Valley is a neocon/repub hotbed for firmly entrenched values that do NOT include the slightest responsibility toward the well-being of their fellow human beings. This attitude is even supported by many Fundamentalist Christian churches, via that perversion of the "God helps those who helps themselves" scripture. Never occurs to them it might be God's plan that THEY themselves play some role in helping those in need to do just that! Heaven forbid! (gasp) Why, doesn't everyone know that homeless people put themselves in that position, so are character-flawed in some way and possibly (probably) dangerous? LOL

Of course, it's only common sense that children should not be openly exposed to those struggling with substance issues that could easily lapse. If that were the only issue, that could be handled easily I'm sure. But that ISN'T the core issue, is it. They don't even want to know such "losers in life" exist, let alone allocate their precious time and energy toward helping the homeless in any substantive way...

Please prove me wrong. Please.


Posted: Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Article comment by: Slater Slater

Bravo now your starting to get it

Posted: Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Article comment by: safe camp

5000 would build a portable 100x100 privacy fenced safe camp to hold 30 sights 10ft apart. One gate.picture id/contract cards by applcation only. 1dumpster porta potty gravel walks. Unemployment like work search. The runes around this Valley say the climates just fine.

Posted: Saturday, September 15, 2012
Article comment by: Fare Play

Most of the towns and cities have across the country have made being homeless a crime by enforcement of loitering laws, illegal camping laws, laws against sleeping in ones own car, laws against pan-handling, etc etc.

In Arizona they now fine you for just about everything, and when you can't afford the fines, they implement their 'cutest' jab at poor and homeless people by enforcing FARE, fines and restitution enforcement, which makes it legal for the state to throw poor people in jail. This way they create a person who now is not only homeless but has a criminal record and even less of a chance of getting a job or place to live. Apparently if you are homeless and poor in Arizona, they just want you to find a rock to crawl under until you die, so no one has to look at you!


Posted: Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Article comment by: Pam Clark

This is an idea whose time has come. When I float the Verde near my home I see homeless camps and makeshift shelters with increasing frequency. One even had a chimney before the last flood took it away. It gives a single woman or kids pause when they want to enjoy the river. It time to give these people a warm place to sleep.

Posted: Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Article comment by: Mary Eichman

Several years ago, the pastor at Mountain View United Methodist Church in Cottonwood decided that the church fellowship hall would be open to the homeless every night and that the church members would serve breakfast and possibly do laundry for the people who chose to stay. At that time I was a member of the Board of Trustees and advanced my questions as to the logistics of a small number of members providing these services on a continuing basis at the same time we had a Pre-school and various meetings held in the buildings. A committee chaired by Ron Black was formed and did diligent research. The project did not go forward, partially due to the rules that drugs and alcohol could not be consumed on the property. I stated at that time that the optimum result would be the donation of a building where this project could proceed as a joint effort. I think that with the churches in the area who could possibly take turns staffing the building on a weekly basis, this can succeed. There are groups who provide meals on a weekly basis and they may also want to be involved. Perhaps someone in the area would be able to fund the purchase of the building or the ongoing expenses. Carol Quasula could be in charge of coordinating through Catholic Charities and their insurance could cover all involved. I think it is a project for everyone to think about assisting.

Posted: Monday, September 10, 2012
Article comment by: Been There

I've been in that position -- having to live in my car, and for a female it is very dangerous.

First of all, I was a normal everyday working person, like many of you. I lived in a city not far from here, and worked hard there for 22 years. Then I lost my job. I had to move into my car (with my beautiful Siberian husky -- my best friend).

Soon, because I couldn't afford the insurance on my car, my plates and registration became revoked -- so then, I basically became a "criminal" in the eyes of the law, because I had an unregistered vehicle.

Still, I had to live in my car, no place else to go, so I tried to find hidden parking places every night where we (my dog and I) could sleep.

This was a challenge, as you cannot park (or even drive) an unregistered vehicle on the streets. I had no choice, really, with no place to go but my car, which was my home. So where do you go, when you're not allowed to be ANYWHERE?

Keep in mind that I was a law-abiding and gainfully-employed citizen, before this happened.

The shelters in this city did not allow dogs, and also were full almost always. Why would I give up my best and ONLY friend in the whole world, (my beloved doggy companion) to maybe be on a waiting list for temporary shelter?

Okay, so I had to take care of my dog, so I panhandled. Never intrusive, never approached anyone asking for money, just sat with a sign. I also was attacked, and ended up with two broken legs -- so then I had to live in my unregistered illegal car with my dog and a wheelchair.

And, please, still keep in mind that I had been a normal, working law-abiding citizen in this large city up to the point where I lost my job and could no longer afford housing.

All I prayed for was some place where I could SAFELY park my car, and sleep for the night!

I was not really a criminal -- If I could have, I would have registered and insured my car!! I had to move from place to place, ALWAYS, because when you are homeless, you can't BE ANYWHERE. I got pulled over, more than once, and got tickets for no registration, no insurance, and soon (because of no registration/insurance) no drivers licence.

I tried to keep my head above water. I just kept sinking. I had to live in my car, but I couldn't legally drive, or park, ANYWHERE.

It snowballed. It was horrible. No place was safe. When I had broken legs, and held a sign, I had many folks drive by and shout insults at me, like "Why don't you get a better fake cast?!" etc. (it was not fake, my knee and ankle were broken, plus the ankle on the other leg).

My whole point is that if I had only had a safe place in which to park, at night, or all day, I would maybe have been okay.

I wouldn't have just stayed there idly, but maybe would have been able to get back on my feet.

At least 2/3rds of a homeless person's day is spent simply trying to survive. If we can make it safer and easier for a homeless person to simply survive, maybe that person would be able to actually get out there and find employment, or some kind of help.

I got lucky, after TWO YEARS of living this way. A kind soul took my dog and me in. It has been 5 years now, and we are going to be married. I am gainfully employed, and, once again, a law-abiding citizen.

I think that this idea of a place in which homeless people can park their cars at night safely is an excellent one!!

People deserve a chance. And remember -- most of us are only a paycheck or two from homelessness. it could happen to you.


Posted: Monday, September 10, 2012
Article comment by: Lauryn Setterlund

This is awesome, Carol! God bless. I hope this works out, the funding as well as the safe parking. You and your employees have worked hard through the years to try and meet the needs of the community and I commend your entire team.



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