By Tommy Acosta
Sedona, AZ — We see then all around town. Loitering outside the entrance and exits of supermarket parking lots, at the intersections of busy corners, holding signs up, panhandling for handouts.
Many are scruffy, carrying their home in their backpacks, walking their dogs along S.R. 89A, carrying guitars and other musical instruments.
They are homeless, most definitely unemployed, each having come to Sedona for one reason or another. Following some kind of a dream.
They gather on corners, groups of them, trading stories, just hanging out, perhaps getting high and mingling and laughing. During the day they beg. At night they party.
They lead vagabond lives. By choice or circumstances beyond their control. These are the homeless we see.
Then there are the homeless we don’t see. The ones who lost their homes because of the proliferation of Airbnb’s, living in their cars or vans, parked inconspicuously in the less used corners of parking lots.
They want to work but have no addresses. They want to keep clean but have no place to wash.
Even families are living homeless. No place to stay and no place to go.
And it’s so easy these days to lose everything and end up on the streets.
First, they lose their homes. Then their jobs. They have no money to put down as deposit when trying to rent. They don’t have family members they can turn to. They are hungry. Hopeless, depressed and scared.
For those of us living in the security of our own homes it’s difficult to fathom the depth of fear one must deal with when losing everything and having nowhere to turn.
The magnitude of being homeless, for parents, is beyond normal suffering. We have seen these destitute families on corners, the children so sad. The parents so miserable. Begging for whatever they can scrape up to feed their children.
Then there are the veterans whose minds and lives were traumatized while serving their country, who could not assimilate themselves into society due to mental problems or other factors.
But there is a slight glimmer of hope.
The City of Sedona is taking action to help alleviate some of the hardships these homeless families and individuals are dealing with.
The city has a Homeless Outreach Team that works to connect homeless individuals with resources and services.
The team consists of two police officers who are specially trained to work with homeless individuals and connect them with community resources.
In addition, the City of Sedona collaborates with other local organizations and agencies to address homelessness and provide services.
For example, the city works with the Sedona Community Food Bank, the Sedona Homeless Alliance, and the Verde Valley Homeless Coalition to provide resources and assistance to homeless individuals.
The city also supports the development of affordable housing and has programs to assist individuals and families with housing needs.
These programs include the Community Land Trust, which provides affordable housing opportunities, and the Community Development Block Grant program, which provides funding for housing and community development projects.
Overall, while the City of Sedona may not have a direct service for the homeless, it does work to support and collaborate with other organizations and agencies that provide resources and services to those experiencing homelessness.
The city is also exploring the possibility of finding locations where individuals who have lost their homes, who are working in the city, that are living in their cars or vans, can legally park and stay.
According to Sedona Mayor Scott Jablow, the proliferation of Airbnb’s has devastated the availability of affordable housing in the city, leading many employees out in the cold.
“I find myself laying in bed at night, unable to sleep, worrying how we could accommodate these unfortunate people who want to stay and work in our town,” he said. “We need to continue to find ways to help them find affordable housing here in Sedona.”
There are also resources in Sedona and Verde Valley that can provide food and shelter for some of the homeless or those on the sedge.
The Sedona Community Food Bank provides food assistance to individuals and families in need, including homeless individuals.
They may also be able to refer individuals or families to other local resources and services for the homeless. One can visit their website at sedonafoodbank.org or call them at (928) 204-2808 for more information.
The Sedona Homeless Alliance: This nonprofit organization is dedicated to helping homeless individuals and families in Sedona and the surrounding areas.
They offer a variety of services, including emergency shelter, case management, and job training. You can visit their website at sedonahomelessalliance.org or call them at (928) 225-0179 for more information.
The Verde Valley Homeless Coalition serves homeless individuals and families throughout the Verde Valley area, including Sedona.
They offer a range of services, including emergency shelter, food assistance, and case management. You can visit their website at vvhc.org or call them at (928) 634-6590 for more information.
At least compassionate people in the city are working to help those who do not wish to be homeless find a way out, or at least a place to safely stay.
For those who want to live “free” of attachments and responsivities, they could not have picked a better place to do so than Sedona.
For those who by no act or will of their own found themselves and families homeless, the good people of Sedona will rise to the occasion and with the love for fellow human beings in need, do the right thing.
Been there, done that. Still alive. Hanging on to my Room and Board room for dear life.
This just gives me more incentive to become more active with the Green Bag program. Wonder if there is a way to give EVERY month, instead of every other month? Also will see how and where I can be of the most use. Sedona has been so good to us since 1994… We need to keep giving back.
I love that Sedona is helping those who need a hand up and want to get their lives on track.
Not so thrilled to help addicts, who want support to continue their habit, or those who simply want a free ride.
Those who are mentally ill need other kinds of services entirely.
I think it’s important to be discriminating here, it’s a really complex issue.
Van lifers and RVers have long extolled the wonders of Sedona and the disbursed camping areas…When I was in college in Flagstaff, the first year it became NAU in the 60s, I enjoyed the beauty of the area with its relatively untrammeled areas…and Jerome itself was an artists community with little tourist infestation.
Glad I experienced it when I did, in the way I did.
I am so impressed with this article and the sincere efforts to address the issue of homelessness in Sedona! Thank you for sharing this information. I am grateful.
Saint Andrews Episcopal Church has been providing hot meals for all whom want them every Monday at 5pm. They always need volunteers. This is a way to give back if you are interested. Thanks for writing this article.
Great article, Tommy. It’s an important, often times complex, issue. Glad the City is addressing it.