Community leaders address homelessness in Tucson - Tucson News Now

Community leaders address homelessness in Tucson

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Homelessness in Tucson was at the forefront during a public discussion at the Pima County Public Library Saturday.

Members of Occupy Public Land joined city officials and local shelters to discuss solutions to homelessness and encouraged those who attended to suggest their own.

Dozens of people filled the room at the downtown library to hear the discussion and have their voices heard, including Bobby Burns, a Tucson resident who shared his success story.

Burns was homeless in Tucson 20 years ago, but with the help of local shelters like Primavera Works, Burns found steady work and got to see his diary, "Shelter: One Man's Journey from Homelessness to Hope," get published by the University of Arizona Press.

"I fought like a champion. I went to work. I stayed clean and sober. I followed the rules, and I was able to save money and find transitional housing," Burns said.

A February 2013 street study conducted by the faith-based community group, Tucson Pima Collaboration to End Homelessness, showed roughly 1,765 homeless individuals and families are on the streets and in shelters in Tucson, according to Jodelle Barnes with the City of Tucson's Housing and Community Development.

Jon McLane, co-founder of Occupy Public Land and Safe Park, organized the panel discussion with the hope that open dialogue about homelessness will help spur action against it.

"Luckily it's finally being talked about. This has been an issue that has been underneath the rug for quite awhile and no one was discussing," McLane said.

McLane said his group plans to hold a follow-up public forum on May 25.

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