Phoenix restaurant owner speaks about turmoil surrounding homeless encampment

Mar 22, 2023, 4:25 AM | Updated: Apr 27, 2023, 11:28 am

(Facebook Photo/Old Station Subs)...

(Facebook Photo/Old Station Subs)

(Facebook Photo/Old Station Subs)

PHOENIX — As homelessness in downtown Phoenix continues to create hindrances for locals, the owners of one restaurant are counting on change from officials to revitalize the heart of the city.

Joe and Debbie Faillace have been restaurant owners of Old Station Subs, located at Jefferson Street and 13th Avenue, for more than 37 years.

The couple started noticing a rise in homelessness problems in November of 2019 and they have only continued to worsen, Joe Faillace told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Gaydos and Chad Show on Tuesday.

“They never came down 13th Avenue and now there’s a bunch of tents that are camped out about 35 yards from my sandwich shop,” Faillace said.

The sandwich shop owner said there are homeless people defecating, urinating, screaming, undressing and occasionally fighting just outside of his property’s porch.

But efforts from Faillace to reach out to the local police department were turned away pending the “go ahead” from Scott Hall, the deputy director of Phoenix’s Office of Homeless Solutions, Faillace said.

“He said he’d get right on it and nothing happened,” Faillace said of Hall, adding that he reached out a couple weeks later to inform him of repeated, unpleasant incidents.

“Some days are better than others, but usually I kind of watch when I get out of my car. I look down the street, I look to see if anybody’s around and if nobody’s around, then I just get in there, unlock my gate and get into my restaurant,” Faillace said.

Decades ago, he felt safer attending the same spot. Now that Faillace is approaching his 70th birthday, he said he doesn’t feel as safe.

“Some people have a lot of empathy for them and that’s normal. You got to feel sorry for these people. But, personally, my opinion [is] there has to be a shift. This is just totally out of control,” Faillace said.

“There has to be a shift in thinking, the state has to get involved. The city has to get involved. The churches have to get involved, and there has to be a common sense solution to this.”

As years have passed with little to no solutions, a group of Phoenix residents and business owners filed a lawsuit last August in an effort to force the city to take action on curbing the encampment they say is ruining their neighborhood.

“They haven’t helped us, and that’s why we’re suing the city. We’re not asking for any monetary assistance, we just want our neighborhood back. We want to be like everybody else, we want to run a business without people peeing and pooping,” Faillace said.

An Aug. 10 lawsuit claimed the city policies are what created a public nuisance as they concentrated the growing homeless population in an area known as “the Zone.”

The Zone is centered around the blocks south of Jefferson Street, between Ninth and 13th avenues.

For Faillace, it’s not just maintaining the area surrounding his business that keeps him pushing for change. It’s also to look after himself and Debbie, his wife and business partner.

“She’s been a trooper, we’ve always been a team. She’s always been there for me,” Faillace said.

“She’s been there 28 years and it’s pretty disgusting. She’s been yelled at, screamed at, cussed at and she’s just walking around watering plants.”

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Phoenix restaurant owner speaks about turmoil surrounding homeless encampment