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City of Phoenix taking steps to move homeless population into housing

(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

PHOENIX — The city of Phoenix is working to engage and help the city’s homeless to ultimately find a way to get them into permanent housing.

A new report from the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty criticized some cities in the United States for enacting bans on homeless living in vehicles, camping in public and lying on sidewalks. Riann Balch, Deputy Human Services Director for the city of Phoenix said caseworkers will try and engage homeless first, instead of telling them to pack up and move somewhere else.

“Our first order of business is always going to be to try and engage them, find out what their needs are and then try and provide those services for them,” Balch said. “There may be policies on the books like any city for public safety reasons. We don’t use those to move people along or anything like that.”

Balch said if a homeless person needs a meal or shelter, they can provide that for them. Still, she said the goal is to get Phoenix’s homeless off the streets and find them a place to live. When caseworkers engage with the homeless, they find out what barriers are keeping them from housing.

“As we discover that then we figure out the best way to get that person back into housing,” Balch said. “Just moving them along just creates work for the next area over.”

Balch said over the last year and a half, the city of Phoenix has moved over 500 of the city’s homeless off the streets and into housing.

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