Blog Archives

Phoenix homeless seek refuge from heat

[Source: Colton Shone, KTAR Radio] — The warm temperatures are making it extra tough on the Valley’s homeless population.  At the Human Services campus in downtown Phoenix, many people are seeking shelter, but some have to be turned away.  “There’s not endless resources for this sort of thing, especially now that we have a 60 percent increase in the homeless population,” director Arlene Pfeiff-Maraj said.

Pfeiff-Maraj says the shelter expects about 1,000 people Thursday night but can only hold 450.  Another 300 will stay in a nearby warehouse, and the rest will sleep in the parking lot.  [Note: Read full article at Phoenix homeless seek refuge from heat]

Metro Phoenix homeless count up 20% from 2008

[Source: Yvonne Wingett, Arizona Republic] — More single adults, families, and youths are living on the streets in metro Phoenix.  A Maricopa Association of Governments survey counted 2,918 homeless people throughout the county this year, a 20 percent increase from the 2,426 counted in 2008.  The Homeless Street Count found 230 families living on the streets, up 370 percent from last year’s count of 49 families.  The number of youths living on their own rose to 139, more than triple last year’s count. 

Each January, hundreds of agency workers, police officers, city employees and volunteers hit the streets to count the homeless.  Their findings are used to request federal funding for homeless services and to improve and expand services for non-profits.  This year’s increase in the homeless population comes after a 15 percent decline a year ago, said Brande Mead, a human-services planner with the Maricopa Association of Governments.

The count does not include the number of people living in shelters, which numbered nearly 5,000 last year, she said.  The state Department of Economic Security is conducting this year’s shelter survey; the results could be available early next week, Mead said.

The bad economy is to blame for the increase in the homeless population, experts said.  “We’re seeing more elderly, more disabled (homeless),” said Mark Holleran, CEO of Central Arizona Shelter Services, or CASS, in downtown Phoenix.  “It just appears to be the overall result of what’s happening… with the loss of jobs and the shaky economy” and with government agencies cutting back.  There is also an uptick in the number of homeless veterans, Holleran said, which he thinks could further increase as a result of the war in Iraq.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Phoenix police, shelter reach out to troubled homeless people

[Source: Lindsey Collom, Arizona Republic] — Cecilia didn’t look up. A man who was with her had slinked away into the darkness, leaving a broken crack pipe and Cecilia alone to answer police and social workers. She rummaged through a tote filled with papers and other clutter, ignoring the headlights that broke the night and illuminated her campsite of boxes and bags on a central Phoenix roadside.

Homeless-shelter operators, on a regular nighttime sweep of downtown, said they often found Cecilia sleeping on the streets, even though she had an apartment. “For a long time, we’re just kind of thinking she was lonely,” said Sean Bonnette, a shelter manager at Central Arizona Shelter Services, Arizona’s largest homeless shelter. “She’d just come out here and stash stuff. She wants to sit out here….It’s hard to teach someone to not be homeless.”

Service providers and Phoenix police have joined forces to attack chronic homelessness by reaching out to those who won’t ask for assistance. A team of Phoenix police and CASS specialists has been crisscrossing downtown Phoenix four nights a week to engage homeless people who have severed connections with service providers and are drowning in mental illness or substance abuse. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Capitol Mall Association to hold Dec. 10 community forum on neighborhood safety

[Source: Shannon Dubasik, Capitol Mall Association] — The Capitol Mall Association will host a community forum concerning the significant influx of sex offenders and prisoners being released into the neighborhoods on the near west side of downtown Phoenix.  Invited are city officials and staff, County Supervisors, state legislators, the Arizona Department of Corrections and other related state agencies, social service providers, business owners, and residents.

  • Date: Wednesday, December 10, 2008
  • Time: 6 – 7 p.m.
  • Place: University Park (northwest corner of 10th Avenue & Van Buren)

For more information or if you have questions, contact Shannon Dubasik at 602-340-0745 or e-mail.

ASU student-led event, Dec. 5, to spotlight plight of Phoenix homeless

[Source: Janessa Hilliard, Special for The Republic] — A few extra homeless will be sleeping on the streets of downtown Phoenix on Friday night.  Arizona Student Public Interest Research Group, in affiliation with students at Arizona State University, is hosting an overnight campout to raise awareness of hunger and homelessness.  The event will take place on First Friday from 9 p.m. until midnight in the Shade Garden outside Taylor Place, the student residential complex on the ASU Downtown campus.

The students plan to spend the night sleeping in makeshift box housing and sleeping bags, creating what they are a calling Box City.  In addition, those attending the First Friday art walk, will see students dressed to appear as part of the “homeless” community, carrying signs proclaiming “Keep Your Coins, We Want Change.”  The goal is to educate fellow students and the public about the growing plight of the homeless in the Phoenix area.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Metro Phoenix homeless population growing

[Source: Dennis Lambert, KTAR Radio] — The Valley’s homeless population is growing.  Mark Holleran of Central Arizona Shelter Services said the population at the shelter in downtown Phoenix has jumped from about 550 a night to more than 1,000 over the last three years.   “Our numbers have grown probably 10 percent in the last year alone,” Holleran said.  “We think absolutely that it’s economy driven.

“The real problem I have right now is not serving people when they come in, but figuring out where they’re going to go to.  My job is to move them through the shelter system as quickly as possible.”  Eight percent of those seeking services are single adults, many of whom have addiction and correction issues, Holleran said.  CASS turns away homeless families every day because there’s simply not enough room.

County trade could get city Pappas land

[Source: Yvonne Wingett, Arizona Republic, June 18, 2008] — Maricopa County and the city of Phoenix will start negotiations on a land swap that includes a hot downtown parcel that housed the Thomas J. Pappas school for the homeless.  At meetings today, elected officials on both sides are expected to authorize agreements that will allow the negotiations on the property in downtown Phoenix to advance.  Potential suitors have been speculating about the future of the four-acre parcel since last summer.

Under a likely scenario, the county would trade the property and a one-acre parcel across the street, currently occupied by a district-administration building.  The land, south of Fillmore Street along Fifth Avenue, is zoned commercially and is valued by the county assessor at about $8.2 million.  In exchange, the city could hand over rights to parts of Madison Street, from First to Fifth avenues, needed by the county to build a massive criminal-court tower project.

The city could also give the county more land or funds to even out the deal.  Both sides are getting their properties appraised.  “We hope we have a fair exchange monetarily, and we hope that the city of Phoenix does something good with the property that will make the neighborhood happy and will improve the downtown,” said Jim Bloom, chief of staff to county Supervisor Andy Kunasek.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Help Phoenix’s homeless stay cool this summer

When the temperatures soar and the hot summer days are upon us, many homeless people who live on the streets do not have their basic needs met.  The city of Phoenix requests people to donate the following items — unopened water bottles, sunscreen, new underwear, white socks, white T-shirts, and pre-packaged snack items such as individually wrapped cookies and crackers — that will be distributed to the homeless.  Click here for more information.

Feeding the homeless outside Human Services Campus

In this video slideshow set to music, the living conditions of some Phoenix homeless are documented.  Caring citizens also take it upon themselves to feed the homeless outside the gates of the Phoenix Human Services Campus.