PHOENIX, ARIZONA: The aftermath of the city of Phoenix’s cleanup operation in “The Zone,” once the city’s largest homeless camp, has raised concerns as homeless people appear to be moving into d other parts of the neighborhood.
The area, which stretches from Jefferson to Jackson streets along 9th to 15th avenues, was a hot spot for homeless people, with more than a thousand people camping at its peak in 2021 and 2022.
Dispersal of homeless people raises concerns among residents
In response to a legal order, the city successfully cleared “The Zone” on November 4, addressing concerns raised by property owners who filed a lawsuit over conditions in the encampment.
However, the aftermath of the cleanup led to homeless populations dispersing to other areas, prompting residents like Troy Young to observe an increase in the number of people looking for alternative housing.
Young, who recently moved into a home near 15th Avenue and Fillmore Street, has noted an increase in the number of homeless people rummaging through dumpsters and setting up makeshift camps in various locations.
He noted, “It appears that the city’s ‘clean-up,’ quote-unquote, has only spread the mess much further.”
What solution has the city’s Office of Homeless Solutions adopted?
The city’s Office of Homeless Solutions has recognized the emergence of new encampments in other neighborhoods.
Rachel Milne, director of the office, said, “Homelessness is on the rise across the region” and they are handling new encampment reports on a case-by-case basis through the Phoenix CARES program.
During the deep cleaning process from May to November, the city worked with more than 700 people in “The Zone,” providing shelter services to people on the streets.
Although the majority accepted indoor locations, some people chose not to use the shelters offered, citing concerns about safety or comfort. “You want to go to places where you feel safe,” Antoin Jackson said.
Lack of space challenges shelter initiatives
Despite efforts to create additional shelter options, the city currently lacks enough space to accommodate all those in need beyond “The Zone.”
Current projects, including hotel options and a structured campground called Safe Outdoor Space, aim to provide more alternatives for the homeless population. However, as the city works to find solutions, residents like Young are increasingly expressing concerns about deteriorating conditions in their neighborhoods.
“I have to put security around my house… It sucks,” he added. “It sucks for everyone,” 12 News reports.
As Phoenix grapples with ongoing challenges related to homelessness, the city encourages the public to follow “healthy giving” guidelines during the holiday season for those wishing to help the homeless population.