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Tue, Jan. 28

Local charity seeks to highlight services available to benefit homeless families

This Dec. 15, 2016 file photo shows beds set up at a homeless Shelter on Madison Avenue in Prescott. (Courier file photo)

This Dec. 15, 2016 file photo shows beds set up at a homeless Shelter on Madison Avenue in Prescott. (Courier file photo)

Agape House of Prescott leaders hope to illuminate city and community leaders to the reality of family homelessness in this community, and the coordinated efforts of many to answer the need.

November is both National Homelessness Awareness Month and National Homelessness Youth Awareness Month. Both are educational efforts to heighten awareness about homeless families. The latter was started in 2007 to acknowledge some 2.5 million children and families across the nation experiencing homelessness each year.

At Agape House, a two-person staff and volunteers work to provide transitional housing for families experiencing homelessness, including single-mother and single-father households.

Since they started their program, the non-profit charity has provided housing for 15 families, including 39 children and 15 adults, agency leaders said. They currently are providing rent and utilities for four families, with post-care for another 11 families.

In 2020, Agape House intends to expand its annual budget from $150,000 to $250,000 to answer what they see as a growing need. The charity has purchased an apartment complex so as to house up to a total of 16 families, and is seeking business and faith-based sponsors to assist with those costs, said Administrative Director Becky Mitchell.

At the same time, Prescott Area Shelter Services that provides a 90-day, 19-bed transitional housing program for mothers and young children is now in the process of expanding its property to allow for eight additional beds for mothers with boys age 12 and older. The organization also now offers two transitional living homes in Chino Valley, with the chance a third will be added next summer.

The Yavapai Territorial Gospel Rescue Mission that opened in 2014 is a faith-based housing ministry for up to 32 women and children.

Stepping Stones Agencies operates a 16-bed, five-crib shelter for abused women and children with an additional four apartments for families in transition.

The choices for men aged 18 and older is either the Coalition for Compassion and Justice emergency shelter or Project Aware, a 10-bed emergency shelter of between a week and 15 days for those 18 and older who do not have steady employment. They also have some transition beds for those who are employed. Project Aware requires all clients to pass a breathalyzer test. CCJ does not have such a requirement.

“Each organization has a unique niche with a target population,” said Mitchell of the various housing programs geared toward helping struggling individuals and families regain stability and “dignity.”

She said she appreciates the community collaborations that enable agencies to refer clients when one agency may not have space, or be able to meet a particular individual or family need.

“There is no competition,” Mitchell assured. “We all need to work together to solve the homeless crisis in Prescott.”

Follow Nanci Hutson on Twitter @HutsonNanci. Reach her at 928-445-3333 ext. 2041.

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