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Phoenix defends decision to oust homeless from traffic triangle

(Photo: Google Maps)
LISTEN: Why were the homeless removed from a downtown traffic triangle

PHOENIX — Homeless people who once found shelter in an area near downtown Phoenix’s Roosevelt Row will now need to find a new place to sleep after the city declared the camp illegal this week.

City officials declared the triangular piece of land between Roosevelt Street and the merging Third and Fourth streets as a utility right-of-way due to buried electrical lines that cross underneath the triangle.

With the jurisdiction established, the city enforced its anti-urban camping ordinance and began to move the homeless out.

But one city official said it was about more than just the law, citing a need to bring aid and services to the homeless and working to keep both the homeless and drivers in the area safe.

Marchelle Franklin, the interim director with the city’s human services department, said the department is aiming to get those people off the streets and into shelters and programs to get their lives back on track.

“The goal from the city of Phoenix always is from a human services perspective to make sure we lead with services,” Franklin said.

Franklin said people with Community Bridges, an addiction and recovery center that is contracted with the city for such intervention work, went to the camp eight times between Tuesday and Wednesday to offer help.

“If they’re not [getting] the services [and programs] then they’re going somewhere else,” she said.

“So we’re trying to take individuals in our community who were there on that triangle parcel, who are homeless, and to get them the services [they need] so they can move from being homeless to shelter.”

Franklin said the move to start offering help to the homeless people in the area was part of the department’s PHX C.A.R.E.S. program, which sends outreach teams to “encourage [homeless people] to accept the services and resources that are offered to help end their homelessness,” according to its website.

The program handled the intake of complaints from residents living around the triangle and then worked up a plan for the intervention.

So far, only a handful of homeless people have taken up the offer of help from the city, while others have just moved on. The city has also began regularly patrolling the triangle to make sure no new encampments open up.

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