Frankie Lyons investigates an abandoned homeless camp

Veterans United Arizona president Frankie Lyons investigates an abandoned homeless camp at Body Beach in 2016.

For those without a home, Mohave County offers a tool to help people get off the streets and into a safe place to live — Housing Choice Vouchers.

“The vouchers provide a valuable resource for citizens that find themselves in a position of not having permanent housing,” Mayor Cal Sheehy said.

The vouchers are designed to help those living without a home pay a portion of their rent. That amount is based on the number of people in the household and their income. Once someone’s application for a voucher is accepted, all that’s left to do is find a place that fits within their price range and a landlord that’s willing to work with the voucher program — which can be the hardest part of the process.

One of the biggest roadblocks is the fact that the “vast majority” of those who are homeless are single, older adults, according to Dave Wolf, Mohave County Housing Authority and community services director. There are few homeless families in the county.

One-bedroom apartments are in short supply countywide, and any spaces bigger than that obviously bump up the price per month.

“The cost of housing is definitely a factor,” Wolf said. “Havasu has the highest contract rents and the lowest amount of people applying for vouchers.”

This problem isn’t new for Havasu — conversations about more affordable and workforce housing options have been circulating the city for years.

“The City is working on facilitating introductions to start collaborations between land owners, developers, banks, and other interested parties to bring some workforce housing inventory to Lake Havasu City,” Sheehy said. “We need people that are in the business of developing these projects to invest in Lake Havasu City.”

Mohave County’s homeless population is no small number.

“We [Mohave County] consistently have the highest population of homeless in rural Arizona,” Wolf said. After the metro Maricopa and Pima Counties, Mohave County comes in third in terms of highest homeless populations.

The number of homeless veterans has seen a “slight decrease,” Wolf said, after looking at the data from the most recent Point In Time count. The next Point In Time count will be conducted in January, where a survey will attempt to identify exactly how much the county’s homeless population has grown or shrunk.

The county is also considering a new way to make resources more accessible for more people. During Monday’s Mohave County Board of Supervisors meeting, a new position in the Community Services department could be approved.

The grant-funded Housing Specialist would handle all casework specifically for “non-elderly, disabled clients,” Wolf said. Formerly homeless disabled clients currently living in supportive housing would get preference for assistance.

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