BISBEE — Like many nonprofits across the country and the state, the Bisbee Coalition for the Homeless is serving more people and fighting to keep the doors open for those who need help.
According to a press release from the Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits, a poll conducted earlier this year found responding nonprofits have lost nearly $53 million. The alliance anticipates that by year end, that will increase to $433 million overall.
Tony Bedolla, executive director for The Bisbee Coalition for the Homeless, said it has had 204 individuals come through the shelter this year, an increase from the 144 they had in all of 2019.
“Homelessness is definitely on the rise,” he said. “It slowed down in May, June and July when people were on unemployment and had their stimulus checks but it’s increasing again.”
Bedolla said there are 24 people staying at the shelter. While that is the shelter’s capacity, it can house an additional 10 people at an isolation house. Bedolla assures the community the shelter is open and ready to serve anyone who needs help with food, shelter or counseling.
“We have never closed down and we never intend to close,” Bedolla said. “I don’t want anybody to think they can’t call upon us for help.”
Since March, the Bisbee Coalition for the Homeless has provided 77,520 meals to Cochise County residents. Bedolla said they help those across the county but the largest needs are in Bisbee, Palominas and Naco. The coalition delivers meals to 110 individuals and supports 509 families.
Bedolla said the group hands out produce, bread, sometimes meat and canned goods. The drive-through and curbside takeout costs the shelter an additional $400 a month.
“We’re averaging about 20 food bags a day since March,” Bedolla said. “We average 170 families on our Wednesday food pickups.”
With the holidays quickly approaching, the shelter and its community partners are running the “home for the holidays” campaign. Bedolla said the mission for the event is to find those living outdoors and put them in a hotel for two weeks since it is becoming colder. The program started on Dec. 16 and has already placed six people inside hotels.
“Normally during winters we have more people coming to the shelter,” Bedolla said. “So we’re expecting an increase (over the next couple weeks).”
The Bisbee Coalition for the Homeless will be distributing about 140 holiday food boxes from Safeway on Dec. 22. Bedolla said the boxes will include a 10-pound cooked turkey, pies, cranberries, dinner rolls, stuffing and mashed potatoes. Boxes will be first come, first served.
Due to being unable to host their annual fundraisers the coalition is relying on monetary donations from corporations and community members to keep doors open.
“We operate on donations,” Bedolla said. “This is a very generous community, and I mean the whole county.”
Donations can be dropped off at the shelter or online.