If you want to know about the options available for Payson's homeless, the man to query is Rick Croy.
Croy is, among other titles, the chairman of the Town of Payson Housing Advisory Committee. He's also on the board of directors of Payson Helping Payson, a group of local churches that help needy families who don't meet the eligibility requirements of the Gila County Community Action Program of which Croy happens to be the local program coordinator.
Q: What options are available to the area's homeless?
Croy: It depends entirely on the circumstances. With (Tess and Freddie), because there is a male adult in the household, the Time Out Shelter could have only offered a temporary solution for them, because that's for women. But if the family were two women, I think they have a 90-day (shelter) limitation.
CAP potentially could help them if they had some sort of employment or a steady income stream in place. If that was the case, our program could pay move-in costs for a household of this type. We can't allow somebody to move into an apartment and pay the deposit and utilities for them if they have no means to pay rent when it comes due.
Q: In this case, Freddie is somewhat disabled. Would that qualify him for any special type of aid?
A: If he is not receiving Social Security, he would probably be an eligible candidate to apply for it. Of course, that doesn't happen instantly. And if he had no income or the ability to get a job that would produce enough revenue to allow him to pay rent on an apartment, we're in a catch-22, because if you're unemployable and have no income, the Social Security process would likely take 90 days at best, and it would be difficult for us to keep them in housing for 90 days.
Typically, we deal with a move-in/rental situation. Past that, you need to seek out shelters in larger communities that can help while they go through the Social Security process.
Q: If they came to this office, would you show them how to begin that process?
A: We have the phone numbers of the Social Security people, and we would certainly work with them, get them to the right people. If they have no income, they may be eligible for food stamps, and we could lead them in that direction, too ... Not that anyone can sleep in food stamps, but whatever revenues they might have, they would not have to spend on food. They might also be eligible for medical programs, depending again on the income situation.
Q: So your office (at 107 W. Frontier St., Payson) is the first place the area's homeless should go to sort out their options?
A: Yes, so we can figure out what their circumstances are. On a short-term thing, like a day or two in a motel, we can sometimes offer that with our very limited motel-type funds. But some of the churches and the Salvation Army provide short-term motel assistance that could add up, all combined, to maybe a week's lodging. But that's not really going to accomplish anything and we have to look at what's going to be accomplished.
But again, it's very difficult for our program, or any program, to do anything for those without some kind of an income source in place. In those cases, the only option is to refer them down to the Valley, where there's a couple of family shelters that can help them.