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Apr 6, 2011 7:37 PM

"51 Homes" aims to shelter Tucson's most vulnerable

TUCSON - A national program to help homeless is now in Tucson. It is called 51 Homes. The plan is to identify the 51 most medically-vulnerable people living on the streets and get them into housing. The larger picture is to provide hope, improve health and change lives.

"There's a lot out there. You're trying to find where you're gonna get food. Where you're going to get housing. Where you're going to get a shower," says Joseph Seiden, who left California a couple weeks ago to get his life back on track. But it's not an easy task living on the streets.

Just getting the basics to survive is tough enough, but having medical problems as well?

"And then you add on top of that no home. Now you've got, they've got no structure. I think the big thing is losing hope too," says Joseph.

In cases like this, it's truly a matter of life and death

"We know that homeless folks, folks living on the streets die about 25 years younger, sooner than the general population," says W. Mark Clark, President of CODAC Health Services.

He's looking for more volunteers to conduct surveys with homeless people. A survey, "which identifies 8 health conditions which are really, which have led in other places to early death."

Once they identify the most medically at-risk people, they can get them into housing. And Clark says that actually saves public dollars.

"If they have been treated earlier would have, they wouldn't have needed to go in the hospital that long," Clark says.

Joseph says a program like this is key to getting people the hope they need.

"Give them some kind of structure, some kind of a base, in which they can work from. And they can see a future. They can see the light they can, you know, work hard and start to pull themselves out of it. But without something like that, I don't know that a lot of people can."

The survey will take place April 10th - 14th. If you want more information and can volunteer with the survey click on the links below.

www.facebook.com/51homes
www.codac.org/51homes

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