On Thursday, Nov. 12, people from around Payson will brainstorm on ways to address the needs of local homeless students.
Challenges for Payson Unified School District’s 300-plus homeless students, beyond the problem of housing, include matters of hygiene, health care, counseling and transportation.
Those interested in attending the Rim Country Homeless Summit should respond by Friday, Nov. 6 to Susan Campbell at the district office at 474-2070 or to Southwest Behavioral Services at 468-8055 ext. 3813.
“Our goal is to ensure that we are fully addressing the educational needs of these students,” said Superintendent Casey O’Brien. “Additionally, we will serve as advocates to connect homeless families with available resources and services.”
The event, which takes place in the district office boardroom inside the Rock Building at Julia Randall, begins at 8:30 a.m. with refreshments and registration. A brief speech by keynote speakers will follow.
From 9:30 a.m. to 11:15 a.m., six breakout groups will discuss how to address issues of daily living, social services, employment, health care, child care and housing. A 15-minute break will commence at 10:15 a.m.
Each group will report to those at-large after the breakout session.
The morning concludes at about 12:30 p.m. after the group discusses next steps to take.
The Time Out Shelter, which houses victims of domestic violence, reports that over half of homeless women and their children are domestic violence victims. The majority of families that Time Out serves do not have permanent homes, according to a homeless summit brochure.
“My concern lies in the true reality of the local problem,” stated Payson Police Chief Don Engler in the brochure. He thinks the problem is more severe than statistics reveal.
“Especially during the summer months, this is a significant problem,” he stated.
Payson schools have received $81,000 in federal funds to combat homelessness. Children are classified as homeless if they live in shelters, the forest, have doubled up with another family because of economic hardship, or are unaccompanied youth.
Roughly 82 percent of Payson’s homeless youth are “doubled up.”
Despite having a roof over their heads, these children still have unmet needs, district officials say.