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SPECIAL REPORT: Living on the streets in Yuma

News 11’s Valeria Rodriguez went to a couple of homeless encampments around the city

YUMA COUNTY, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - The amount of people experiencing homelessness has increased all across the nation including Yuma County.

For some people, a tent, and a couple of chairs is what they call home.

“Just be kind to people, you don’t know their situation, you don’t know the shoes that they have walked in or why they are out here and some of us that are out here are really really, trying to strive to get a place and be stable and be a viable member of the community," explained Kelly.

Kelly, one of the many people in Yuma County experiencing homelessness shared just one of the many struggles she faces every day.

“Some of us can’t really hold down a job due to mental health problems, also we have our own like little jobs. Like I do scrapping and that brings in money and it is also hard work," stated Kelly.

She said living on the streets is easier when you have someone looking out for you.

“It's good too, it's good to have a man for me and my mother being out here and she’e elderly so it can get dangerous for you know, for women," continued Kelly.

Another woman we spoke to has been homeless since 2018.

“It's not like anything else, you know? We do whatever kind of work we can to make our shelters and do what we can, get what we need," explained Riley, homeless in Yuma.

A survey conducted by the Yuma Coalition to end homelessness shows there were 119 people experiencing homelessness in Yuma County in 2022.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, last year there were over 14,000 people experiencing homelessness in Arizona, a five percent increase from 2022.

People experiencing homelessness in Arizona:

  • In 2022, there were approximately 13,553 people.
  • In 2023, there were approximately 14,237 people.

Nationally, there were over 653,000 people experiencing homelessness, a 12 percent jump from 2022.

People experiencing homelessness in the United States:

  • In 2022, there were approximately 582,462 people.
  • In 2023, there were approximately 653,104 people.

The majority are between the ages of 35 to 44.

One local faith-based organization, Crossroads Mission, helps people get back on their feet.

The Outreach Coordinator makes sure to check up on those experiencing homelessness.

“If there is a helping hand that can get them out of there, well why not me? Why can’t I do that?" stated Griselda Baro, Crossroads Mission Outreach Coordinator.

Sharing is one of the biggest things they focus on teaching others.

“The 12 steps are part of our life, if you see the 12 steps it's not only for people who are on drugs or alcohol and if you read the 12 steps, it’s our daily life. If we understand our daily life we know that the 12 steps is going to work, the 12 steps are going to be there for you," explained Baro.

Crossroads Mission has a range of programs to help those in need, one that teaches the basics.

“The New Way Program is when you have already gone through the first steps, getting you ready to go out there," stated Baro.

Another focuses on beating addiction.

“New life this is where you focus on yourself and you start learning tools to keep yourself sober and clean," continued Baro.

Griselda Baro with Crossroads also shares the importance of being there for others.

“Helping people, getting them where they need to be, building that relationship that they need. Maybe it's just somebody, a friend to be there for them and helping them out of that situation where they’re out and sometimes they don’t wanna be there," stated Baro.

Crossroads Mission also said the need is year-round.

The Mission is always in need of things like tents, socks, and umbrellas.

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Valeria Rodriguez

Valeria Rodriguez joined the KYMA team as a multimedia journalist in June 2023.
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