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Valley homeless shelter sees all walks of life

ADDITION: ADDING MALAYSIA POLICE WANT TO QUESTION NORTH KOREA EMBASSY STAFF: North Korean Embassy counselor Kim Yu Song, left, talks with a translator after reading out a press release to reporters at the gate of the embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Friday, Feb. 24, 2017. Malaysia's police chief said Thursday investigators want to question a North Korean embassy official about the death of the exiled half brother of Pyongyang's leader, saying he should cooperate if he has nothing to hide despite having diplomatic immunity. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

While some would associate a homeless shelter with housing panhandlers, that is not the case at one Valley shelter.

“We see a diversity of people,” said Irene Agustin with the Central Arizona Shelter Service. “Most people are aware of the homeless on the street, in terms of people asking for money, begging for things, but that’s less than 20 percent of the population. The people that we see have become homeless because of the economy.”

Agustin said 80 percent of the people in the shelter likely lost their home, job or both and are trying to get back on their feet and came to the shelter looking for help.

“It’s really on them. We just help direct them in the right way, but they’re the ones going in for their job interviews and going to their appointments,” she said.

Agustin said the average length of stay in their adult shelter is 42 days, but they allow a maximum of 180 days. The average family stays for 52 days, but are allowed to stay for 90.

“Some people are really motivated,” she said. “They only need a week’s stay and get out there and we never hear from them again because they don’t need the shelter anymore.”

Agustin said the shelter’s goal is to get people out as quickly as possible so a complicated situation doesn’t have time to get worse.

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To donate to Central Arizona Shelter Service, go to cassaz.org.

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