Ex-Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey: ‘Tough love’ should be part of homelessness response

Jun 15, 2023, 11:00 AM | Updated: Jun 16, 2023, 12:54 pm

PHOENIX – Former Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said the state can be a leader by addressing its homelessness problem with both compassion and “tough love.”

“These are, oftentimes, people that need services, they need things to be addressed,” Ducey said in an interview that aired Thursday on KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show. “There’s alcoholism and addiction and drugs and mental health and people that are just down on their luck for whatever reason.”

He also acknowledged that the state’s economic development has contributed to the rise in homelessness, calling it “the other edge, or the other side of the coin, of high growth and the dynamic economy.”

Ducey, who was governor for eight years before leaving office in early 2023, said the state’s role is to provide resources, but it’s primarily up to local governments to develop and implement strategies.

“There is a way to do this,” he said. “It requires some resources. It requires some tough love, and there’s a way where Arizona can be a leader on how to do this in a humane and compassionate way.”

Ducey cautioned against putting too much money into the homelessness support system, something he says has been happening in cities like Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

“They have what I would call a homeless industrial complex,” he said. “Every time they get more money for homelessness, they get more homeless people.”

In Maricopa County, the number of people experiencing homelessness increased by over 70% between 2017 and 2023, according to the point-in-time census conducted by the Maricopa Association of Governments once a year.

Ducey said leaders should create policies that protect people experiencing homelessness while ensuring the safety of the public and businesses.

“They just need to act on this,” he said. “It needs to be something that can be addressed. We’ve seen how it is spread here in Phoenix.

“I don’t want to act as if it wasn’t here several years ago, but you’ve seen how different it is right now.”

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Ex-Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey: ‘Tough love’ should be part of homelessness response