Homelessness in Tucson and the Pima County area saw a slight decrease last year. But the director of housing services at the Primavera Foundation says the city and region are capable to do a lot more to help the homeless population get a permanent roof over their head and steady income.
About 35 percent of the entire state's homeless live in Pima County, according to statistics. Kay Wolferstetter, director of housing services at the Primavera Foundation, said their concentration in Pima County is both a reflection of the resources available for the homeless, as well as the lack of affordable housing and job opportunities.
"Jobs are definitely a concern for a lot of the folks who come through our doors, our shelters specifically, a lot come in with some criminal backgrounds," she said. "We are looking at our community and challenging our community members to give some second chances for options for folks who have maybe a felony from maybe eight, ten years ago."
The Primavera Foundation has been around for 31 years, and has a variety of programs, from job search help to temporary housing, for families, children under 18 and one of the most vulnerable populations for homelessness, veterans.
Last summer, Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild said his goal for this year was to completely end veteran homelessness. Wolferstetter said the passion to get it done is there.
"All of the patterns involved in that are intensely passionate and driven by this initiative with the 25 cities, the mayor's office has definitely been the spear head and we have other leader...doing a great job identifying how we can actually get there with a great strategy..." she said. "Our own local VA is doing a great job with outreach as well...we actually are going out to the washes...veterans who have not been served...having a hard time navigating the system..."