Homeless numbers fall

It appears there are not as many homeless on Tucson's streets, and this holiday season could be an indication that it's true.

In 2008, nearly  4,000 people lined up for the Salvation Army Christmas dinner. This year, 1,350.

The Salvation Army has 91 beds set aside for Operation Deep Freeze but on five successive nights, there were empty beds.

Several food trucks drove to Santa Rita Park on 22nd only to find the demand for their turkey dinners was far below what was expected.

While certainly unscientific, the Tucson homeless headcount verifies the numbers are down.

But the question remains, is it because there are truly fewer homeless or are there more services which makes them more invisible.

"We do have more organizations out there that we work with that we refer people to if they can't come here," says Shawna Kroh, the "p-r" person for the Salvation Army. "I think that's a big reason."

The Tucson Pima Collaboration to End Homelessness numbers reflect a small drop year to year from 2013 to 2014. New numbers will be taken in January, 2015.

That same group has been working for the past two years to end homelessness among veterans and has taken several hundred off the streets.

It's made possible by donations and federal grants.

"I'd love to work myself out of a job," says Cliff Wade, a homeless advocate. "It would be the best thing I could do."

The city of Tucson will also distribute $152,000 to three social service agencies after the first of the year to help more find shelter.

It's like the problem is not going away, it's that more awareness means more resources.

"It's not a bad thing if we're serving less meals," says Major Clement Leslie of the Salvation Army. "I'm hoping that translates into it means people are doing better, getting off the streets."