What do those experiencing homelessness in downtown Phoenix need?
Jun 21, 2023, 4:05 AM | Updated: 6:01 am
(Facebook Photo/Phoenix Rescue Mission, File)
PHOENIX — For a local gallery owner in downtown Phoenix, his journey into becoming friends with those experiencing homelessness within the Zone developed overtime.
Joel Coplin moved his business Gallery 119 into a local building in 2018 by Madison Street and 11th Avenue. When he first moved into his new site, he said people did not have tents. Instead, they would sleep in front of the building, roll up in the morning and return at night.
“But now, since the advent of ‘everybody’s got a tent’ and they add onto their tents and make them pretty nice facilities, there’s no way to park and they’re cooking. There’s no way you can have people come look at the exhibition gallery,” Coplin said.
But that didn’t stop Coplin from lending a helping hand.
“I have friends that I’ve helped that have come to stay with me while they’re waiting for their housing voucher. As long as a year I put people up and they finally get their housing voucher and then they can move in,” Coplin said.
“But it takes such a long time. That’s why CASS has become so huge and everything takes forever. It’s so much better to have smaller, more efficient, targeted shelters scattered throughout the metropolitan community rather than one giant thing.”
His best advice for anyone looking to help the homeless is to support the financial agencies that assist with connecting the them to critical services.
“(Do not) come down here and give out sandwiches and to give out potato chips and Ho Hos and Ding Dongs. People get three meals a day here,” Coplin said.
“We don’t need people coming down and giving out clothes, there’s clothes everywhere.”
Despite the defecation, heat and encampments, Coplin chooses to find inspiration and to make a change.
“There’s two side to it. I am a painter. I’m an artist. What I see on the street is just nothing but pure fodder for painting, so I’m still alright that way,” he said.