Phoenix creating structured campground as part of Zone homeless encampment cleanup

Jun 29, 2023, 12:15 PM | Updated: Jul 10, 2023, 6:36 am

PHOENIX – The city of Phoenix is creating a structured campground for people who are being cleared out of the Zone homeless encampment but refuse to move to an indoor shelter.

The Phoenix City Council on Wednesday approved a revocable license agreement with an option to purchase state-owned property on Jackson Street between 15th and 16th avenues.

The 4.2-acre site is just blocks from the Zone, the homeless encampment around the Human Services Campus at Madison and 12th avenues.

The plans call for the facility to open in phases, with restrooms, showers and 24-hour security. The property is already equipped with shade structures and a cooled indoor warehouse for daytime heat relief.

How is Phoenix clearing the Zone?

Under a court order to clean up the Zone, the city has been clearing the encampment one block at time by offering shelter to the people living there, cleaning up the debris and preventing anyone from camping on the cleared space.

Through three blocks of enhanced cleanup, 25 of the 121 people engaged, about 20%, have declined services, officials said during Wednesday’s council meeting.

Many of those who stay have just moved to another block in the Zone, which eventually will be completely off-limits to camping. Another 600 or so people are still living there.

What’s the purpose of the structured campground?

The structured campground is meant to provide a safe place for those who continue to refuse shelter but won’t be allowed to camp in the Zone after the city finishes clearing the area.

“Our plan would be to phase the opening as we continue efforts around the Human Services Campus so that when we do close down a block, if we do have individuals that aren’t ready to go to an indoor location, we have an alternative place that we can offer them … as an alternative to going and being on someone’s doorstep in front of someone’s business,” Rachel Milne, director of Phoenix’s Office of Homeless Solutions, told the council.

The structure campground is part of an ongoing effort by the city to serve its homeless population.

The city told KTAR News 92.3 FM it partnered to add nearly 600 shelter beds last year and 70 so far this year. Another 840 shelter and transitional beds are planned for 2023 and 2024.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story had the incorrect location for the structured campground and the Zone.

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Phoenix creating structured campground as part of Zone homeless encampment cleanup