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Homeless advocates in Arizona want more money to address issue

In this Oct. 12, 2017 photo, Dominic, who battles mental illness, sits on a sidewalk under the Smith Ave. Bridge in Everett, Wash., which is a constant gathering place for homeless people battling addiction and mental illness. Dominic has been identified as one of the top chronic and costliest users of emergency and other services in Everett, but despite the efforts of a specialized team of experts, he remains on the streets. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

PHOENIX — A group of advocates for the homeless said the state must commit more resources — including money — in order to truly fix it.

“Homelessness kills,” Dr. Michael Shafer with Arizona State University said at a forum in Phoenix on Monday.

Shafer said childhood homelessness, which can occur if a single mother loses her job or is injured to the point she cannot work, has a horrible effect on the kids, too, especially their education.

“Those adverse childhood experiences will pay dividends, if you will, down the road,” he said. “We need to create systems that are more preventative, and allow for early intervention.”

Related: Phoenix defends decision to oust homeless from traffic triangle

The group — which includes Circle the City and Mercy Maricopa Health Systems — said homelessness can happen at any time to anyone. It affects chronic substance abusers and the mentally ill more often.

To make a dent, they say, housing must be affordable and good medical care available to all.

The group is urging people to contact Arizona lawmakers and support more money in the state’s housing trust fund. It was created in 1988 and in years past has been as much as $30 million. Since 2010, it’s been capped at $2.5 million.

It’s also asking for more money for homelessness-ending programs. Today, Arizona allows around $6 million for these programs.

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