Flagstaff Reduces Exposure Deaths By 75 Percent

November 28, 2016

At last count earlier this year Coconino County had 755 people experiencing homelessness.

Flagstaff Shelter Services provides emergency beds for 150 people a night almost every day of the year.

As temperatures drop, churches in the community provide overflow shelter. Over the last three years the organization has helped reduce exposure deaths by 75 percent.

Ross Altenbaugh who heads up Flagstaff Shelter Services said the reasons for homelessness vary. 

“We hear everything from a mom fleeing domestic violence to somebody who has significant mental illness,” Altenbaugh said. “I’ve got a guy here right now who has chronic health issues that have kept them from being able to work …  I’ve got a lot of guys like that.”

Flagstaff lacks affordable housing because it’s locked in by public land. Altenbaugh said so many people are lost trying to navigate the many social service wait lists.

The community is working toward a streamlined approach to housing called Front Door.

Altenbaugh said starting in January each person will be assessed and connected with the best service for that individual.