ARIZONA NEWS

Task force meets to address homelessness spike in Phoenix

Jan 29, 2021, 4:05 AM
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)...
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX — A task force made up of neighborhood leaders, homeless advocates, city staff and service providers met Thursday to begin guiding strategies to address the increasing homelessness problem in Phoenix.

The task force will meet monthly to share ideas, help advocate for homelessness solutions at the state and county level and research evidence-based practices, new partnerships and funding opportunities, according to the Strategies to Address Homelessness Plan approved by the city in October.

It was estimated in January 2020 that over 7,400 people were experiencing homelessness in Maricopa County, 51% of which was unsheltered.

The number marked the third straight year an increase was documented, the fifth increase in the last six years, and before the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

It was estimated in late October that by this month an estimated 170,000 to 250,000 households in Arizona would be unable to pay rent and at risk of 150,000 potential eviction filings.

In response to the rising amount of homelessness in the area, a strategic plan was requested by the Phoenix City Council last summer focusing on strategies for people experiencing homelessness as well as developing the best practices to mitigate impact to surrounding communities and neighborhoods.

The plan included developing the task force, a group of 18 people appointed by City Manager Ed Zuercher.

“They are responsible and tasked, if you will, for helping staff develop what should be the priorities relative to implementing strategies that can help to assist us with addressing homelessness,” Marchelle Franklin, human services director for the city of Phoenix, told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

Franklin said the group is aware of the city’s strategies to address the homelessness plan.

The 64-page plan outlines the city’s guiding principles, process, outreach and resources, and strategies for communication, housing, neighborhood and policy along with a focus on mental health and workforce development.

Strategy timelines are also included in the plan, with goals for the short term, medium term and long term, lasting anywhere from one to five years.

Franklin said the meeting Thursday set the foundation for future meetings.

“We have individuals coming from different segments of our community with different understandings of issues and challenges and the dynamics of homelessness,” Franklin said. “We took the meeting today to present on some topics to kind of put everybody on the same page.”

Covered in the first meeting, according to Franklin, included the definition of homelessness and fostering a shared understanding of available funding.

“What has been very unique about this task force is every individual who requested to be a part of it, of course, there were many … every one of them was on the call,” Franklin said. “Every one of them was very passionate, every one of them was engaged.

“We at the city are looking forward to the direction and leadership that is going to come from this task force and how we move forward addressing the challenges for those who are experiencing homelessness.”

The city of Phoenix spends nearly $20 million each year for services related to homelessness solutions, Mayor Kate Gallego said in the plan, which is spread across several departments.

An additional $9.6 million was added to the effort in 2020 from the Coronavirus Relief Fund Act.

The city used this federal money last year to lease a hotel where vulnerable individuals were housed.

Franklin added financial assistance was also provided to entities who had to shift service models due to the virus.

Along with the need for an advisory group, the survey in the development of the plan found additional funding and services are needed in affordable housing, mental health, supportive services, small specialized shelters and providing a service resource navigator.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Taylor Kinnerup contributed to this report.

Lifetime Windows & Doors

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Jose Dioicio Buelna. (Arizona Attorney General's Office Photo)...
KTAR.com

Arizona man sentenced to 5 years for selling fentanyl

An Arizona man was sentenced to five years in prison last week for his role in a drug trafficking organization, authorities said. 
1 day ago
(Tempe Police Screenshot)...
KTAR.com

Watch: Vehicle left in drive rams through Tempe shop

A pair of men narrowly avoided serious injury after a vehicle left in drive rammed through the front of a Tempe shop on Thursday afternoon.
1 day ago
Arizona activists want Gov. Doug Ducey, right, to denounce state Sen. Wendy Rogers over her respons...
Kevin Stone

Arizona political coalition urges Gov. Doug Ducey to condemn Sen. Wendy Rogers

An Arizona political coalition is calling on Gov. Doug Ducey to condemn state Sen. Wendy Rogers over her response to the Buffalo shooting.
1 day ago
(Chandler Police Screenshot)...
Danny Shapiro

Prosecutors don’t charge Chandler officer in fatal shooting of teen

The Maricopa County Attorney's Office announced Thursday it would not charge an officer who fatally shot a teenager in the back in Chandler early last year.
1 day ago
(Arizona Department of Transportation Photo)...
SuElen Rivera

AAA expects busy roads in Arizona for Memorial Day weekend despite rising gas prices

Despite the average price of a gallon of gasoline in Phoenix reaching $5 last week, AAA expects more travelers for this Memorial Day weekend compared to last year. 
1 day ago
(Walmart Photo)...
Kevin Stone

Look! Up in the Arizona sky! It’s a Walmart delivery drone!

Walmart announced plans to launch, literally, a delivery service using aerial drones in Arizona and five other states.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Arizona Division of Problem Gambling

Arizona Division of Problem Gambling provides exclusion solution for young sports bettors

Sports betting in Arizona opened a new world to young adults, one where putting down money on games was as easy as sending a text message.
(Twitter photo / Coco5)...
Coco5

Suns star Devin Booker’s all-natural sports drink Coco5 perfect for any activity

Devin Booker is leading the Suns in pursuit of their first NBA championship while also working to provide people proper hydration with Coco5.
...
SCHWARTZ LASER EYE CENTER

Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to in April

April brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Suns and Diamondbacks.
Task force meets to address homelessness spike in Phoenix