Phoenix Homeless Camps Removed


Tayton Schwartz Jr

Downtown Phoenix has been dealing with a large homeless problem for quite a while. It’s a camp that has about 900 people sprawling in and out of it, which is not the end since the camp is still increasing over time. The area has become so well known that the city calls it The Zone. Neighbors also have been taking notice of the homeless camp and are tired of violence, trash, and just the camp being there; it’s a blight for the community. Neighbors have even sued the city for not doing anything about the camp. Afterward, a judge who ruled in favor of neighbors who sued the city claimed the camp must be removed completely.

As Phoenix officials have been preparing to remove the tents out of the zone this week, they’re scrambling to create safe options for the displaced. This leads to leasing more hotel rooms and even vacant buildings to convert them into shelters. They even hope to build an outdoor campground with security, restrooms. and hand washing stations. The city’s office of Homeless Solutions director said those won’t be available right away. So for now the crew of helpers has stepped up its years-old efforts to try and get the residents off the streets.  “We have to move fast and come up with a plan,” said Nette Reed.  A couple named Debbie and Joe Faillace, who own an Old Station Sub Shop, which is next to camp cropped up for more than 30 years. When they head to work they always discover property damage, drug paraphernalia, and even feces, they said. “It’s nothing but complete lawlessness and it seems to keep getting worse… We just want our neighborhood to just, feel safe’ said Debbie Faillace. Arizona’s Democratic Governor, Katie Hobbs vetoed one such bill saying it only served to make homelessness “less visible”.  The Faillaces and others sued the city last year in a state court over the Zone, an unofficial nickname that isn’t universally embraced. They claimed that the city allowed its public spaces to violate its own public nuisance laws with unsanitary conditions, drug use, violence, and property crimes. A March judge ruled in favor of giving the city a few months to remove the nuisance conditions.

The Phoenix area has roughly half as many shelter beds as people experiencing homelessness, a population that’s grown 46% since 2019 amid the affordable housing crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic. According to the annual counts coordinated by the Maricopa Association of Governments. Many who inhabit the Zone have jobs or get government assistance but still can’t afford the rent. By setting up a camp outside the non-profit Human Services Campus, they guaranteed quick access to a very secure center with roughly 900 shelter beds full on most nights. Plus, aid including food, water, and even health care that’s very critical during Arizona’s scorching summers. “The more people get cleared from the zone the harder it will be for them to for them to access, “Human Services Campus  CEO Amy Schwabenlender said.  The city’s approach is hoping to take it one step at a time one block, one group of people at a time, making sure that we can offer those 50 or so people in that block variety of different solutions.  “I think we have a lot of work to do,” said Schwabenlender. Many people too have no idea where to go when the clean-up will commence at the Zone. Including Stefanie Powell ” I don’t want to roam around the streets again.” She can’t even work either due to her medical issues like neuropathy and fibromyalgia. “It’s hard because no one wants to see or treat the problem. Nobody wants to acknowledge the problem either,” she said. ” They just want it to go away.”  Let’s wish the best for these people and hope that their lives can be turned around or they will find a home for them at the shelters where they can be well taken care of.