Study: Homeless vets need shelter

For many of the homeless veterans in Kingman, Mohave County and Arizona, the Fourth of July will be just another day to struggle.

Of 1,500 homeless in Mohave County on a typical day, 500 are veterans according to Paul Harris, Special Needs Coordinator for the Arizona Department of Commerce.

"A federal program would pay $19 per day to feed the veterans in a shelter," Harris said.

"That is a good source of operational funding for a shelter."

Shelters or transitional housing is often lacking for men.

Shelters are more common for women and families, he said.

The need for housing for men, including the veterans, is one outcome of a local study of needs for homeless people in Kingman.

About 1,487 people received emergency shelter assistance in Kingman during 2000 according to the study done for the Cornerstone Mission Project.

Another 1,000 were turned away, the study estimates.

"The homeless problem in Kingman is obvious from the number of homeless that were turned away from local shelters and emergency assistance agencies each day," the report reads.

"The existences of homeless 'camps' on the desert periphery of Kingman also show the need."

A state estimate shows Mohave County with 56 emergency shelter beds and 13 transitional beds through out the entire county.

Conservative estimates indicate 1,500 to1,700 homeless people are left without shelter each night in the county.

Cornerstone Mission Project, a Kingman faith-based nonprofit organization, is using the study information to move forward with plans to provide additional shelter in Kingman.

Currently, Kingman has 10 emergency shelter beds at the St.

Teresa's Church Prodigal House Ministry and 20 beds at the Kingman Aid to Abused People facility.

The KAAP beds are for women and children.

Cornerstone Mission president Lisa Kelly said a transition shelter that would help the homeless move into a permanent housing situation is the goal.

The study recommends a 20- to 30-bed shelter as a start up facility in Kingman that would serve all homeless groups.

It would expand as needs were confirmed and support could be developed.

The study numbers show a need for a 90-bed shelter with areas for families, men and single mothers with children.

The groups would be separated.

Such a facility would reach annual operational costs of $250,000 and is out of reach as a beginning project, according to the study.

The study recommends working with an existing shelter for start up and location of a shelter in a current shelter location, if possible.

Cornerstone Mission continues to look for a site, develop grant sources for construction of a facility and build awareness of the need for transitional housing and emergency shelter in Kingman.