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Phoenix approves 275 more beds for state’s largest shelter

A large homeless encampment is shown Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020, in Phoenix. Maricopa County officials said Wednesday there have been 490 cases of homeless people infected with the virus since the pandemic began among the county's approximately 7,400 homeless, with at least nine people self-identifying as homeless have died in Maricopa County. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX (AP) — The Phoenix City Council has approved another 275 beds for Arizona’s largest shelter for homeless people.

Council members on Wednesday agreed to the zoning change that eventually will allow up to 700 beds for homeless people at the downtown site.

The vote also allows the charity St. Vincent de Paul to continue operating 200 beds nearby during extreme weather conditions when summer temperatures soar into triple digits.

The final tally was 8-1 with Councilman Carlos Garcia casting the opposing vote.

Some downtown residents and business owners have opposed adding beds to the Central Arizona Shelter Services facility. They suggest scattering small shelters around greater Phoenix rather than concentrating additional beds in the same place.

Maricopa County, which covers the metropolitan area, is home to nearly 7,500 homeless people, according to the last count in early 2020.

Agencies that help the homeless in Arizona’s largest county say the annual January count of people living on the streets was canceled over concerns about the possible spread of the coronavirus.

During the pandemic, shelters have been accepting somewhat fewer people each night to allow for spacing between beds.

With the additional beds approved Wednesday, there eventually will be 1,788 in Phoenix.

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