To stay or go? Individuals in Phoenix’s homeless encampment the Zone faced with decision

Jun 16, 2023, 3:00 PM | Updated: Jun 20, 2023, 3:38 pm

(Caitlin O'Hara/ Getty Images)...

(Caitlin O'Hara/ Getty Images)

(Caitlin O'Hara/ Getty Images)

PHOENIX — For individuals living within the Zone in downtown Phoenix during a cleanup, there are two options: a short-term fix or a long-term solution.

During May’s cleanup of sections within the Zone, the city of Phoenix’s Office of Homeless Solutions engaged with 104 people. Of them, all but 20 individuals opted into moving to indoor locations.

The increase in unsheltered homelessness exists but it is not connected to the cleanup in the Zone, director of the office Rachel Milne told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Gaydos and Chad Show on Thursday.

“I don’t think it’s people coming from a direct result of what we’re doing in the area on the Human Service Campus because, again, 20 people have said ‘no’ to what we offered,” Milne said.

“And we more or less know where those 20 people have ended up going and that’s to other blocks within that same area that are still open to pick up their tent.”

Individuals living within the Zone can be connected to services through various partnerships, despite possible barriers to a sustainable future.

“The Human Services Campus plays a very important role in our homeless service system. There are 700 permanent shelter beds on the Human Services campus … there are 17 partners providing ID’s, food, behavioral health, mental health, physical health, Circle the City. That is an important part of our community,” Milne said, adding that the city is also working to open more shelters.

“Eventually, what I’d love to see is have that (Human Services Campus) be the emergency system and then people get referred out to these more specialized shelters from there, so we’re committed to opening these smaller, more specialized shelters.”

The next cleanup is scheduled for Wednesday on Madison Street, in between Eight and Ninth streets.

She said it will appear similar to the cleanup between Washington and Jefferson streets, where signs warding off individuals looking to camp now replace blocks of where tents once gathered.

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To stay or go? Individuals in Phoenix’s homeless encampment the Zone faced with decision