ARIZONA NEWS

Tempe sees positive results from efforts to address homelessness

Sep 8, 2023, 8:45 AM

A woman engages with an unsheltered individual in Tempe, Arizona. The city counted 355 people exper...

Tempe, Arizona, counted 355 people experiencing homelessness during a point-in-time count conducted June 15, 2023, down 30% from the previous summer's homeless census. (Facebook Photo/City of Tempe Government)

(Facebook Photo/City of Tempe Government)

PHOENIX – Tempe is seeing positive results from its efforts to address homelessness, according to data released Wednesday.

The East Valley suburb announced that 355 unsheltered people were documented during a point-in-time (PIT) count conducted June 15, a decline of about 30% from last summer.

“I think the main driver behind the success in addressing our unsheltered homeless here in Tempe has been just a collective effort of the entire city, starting really with the coordinated effort around the river bottom,” Tempe Community Health and Human Services Director Tim Burch told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

Burch said 75 people living in unsafe conditions in the Salt River bottom were contacted, and over 50 accepted offers to be connected with services.

How does Tempe monitor homelessness situation?

Tempe staff and volunteers conduct PIT homeless counts twice a year, once as part of the Maricopa Association of Governments’ regional homeless census in January and once each summer.

Tempe counted 515 people experiencing homelessness during its summer 2022 PIT census and 406 in January of this year.

The counts provide valuable snapshots that policymakers consult as they work to address the homelessness issue.

“Not only do we have these point-in-time counts that happen twice a year; we have a weekly dashboard out there for all of our citizens or residents to check to see what progress we made this week in dealing with this issue,” Burch said.

“We’re all about the data. I want to put as much of it out there to help us make decisions as possible.”

Hotline connects those in need to Tempe services

Burch said the “backbone” of Tempe’s efforts is its CARE & HOPE Line (480-350-8004), part of the city’s HOPE (Homeless Outreach Program Effort) program.

More than 7,000 calls came into the line in the last year, Burch said.

“Thirty-five hundred of those calls have been about unsheltered individuals, and a lot of them directly from unsheltered residents themselves saying, ‘Look I need some help, can someone come?'” he said.

The HOPE response team is staffed 24/7 to provide not only food and water but to offer services such as shelter and treatment programs to put people in need on the road to self-sufficiency.

“We want to make homelessness brief, rare and one time for any individuals. That’s our mission, we’ll keep focusing on that,” Burch said. “And I hope to see continued progress as we go into the winter months.”

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Benjamin Brown contributed to this report.

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Tempe sees positive results from efforts to address homelessness