Wildland firefighters are hard at work, battling the Tenderfoot Fire in Yarnell, saving homes while they save lives. But one vulnerable population, Yavapai County’s homeless, has almost nowhere to turn when a fire threatens their camp.
Homeless People Displaced by Fire
“We act as emergency responders for the homeless,” explains Rick Brust, Team Lead for PATH (Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness). “By continually monitoring homeless populations in the area, we are able to proactively assist those with nowhere else to go.”
Catholic Charities homeless programs also focuses its resources on helping homeless individuals suffering from serious mental illnesses. Catholic Charities staff have developed strong relationships with local law enforcement and forest agencies to ensure that Catholic Charities is the first call they make when encountering homeless individuals. This coordinated effort is imperative as Arizona’s 2016 fire season is projected by the National Interagency Fire Center to be above normal, leading to an increased need for relocations and emergency shelters.
Weekly Outreach and Services
In addition to relocating homeless individuals, Catholic Charities staff perform weekly outreach, registering homeless individuals and providing education on how to be a proper steward of the forest, camping safety, fire extinguishing methods, and hygiene. They also drop off regular water supplies and provide trash bags and weekly trash pick-up services.
The Tenderfoot Fire’s mandatory evacuations have just been lifted, and people are returning to their homes, but the homeless that camp in these areas have nowhere to return to.
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