Phoenix finishes cleaning up final blocks of The Zone homeless encampment

Nov 2, 2023, 9:44 AM

PHOENIX — The city of Phoenix on Wednesday successfully finished cleaning up The Zone, where people experiencing homelessness have lived in tents and for years.

The sweep comes after a judge in October imposed a Nov. 4 deadline to remove tents and other makeshift structures.

The last days of the city’s cleanup were spent clearing the final two blocks, while also finding housing for people experiencing homelessness in the area.

Wednesday’s outreach and engagement efforts led to 120 people accepting a spot inside an indoor shelter space and five others accepting a place at the Safe Outdoor Space in Phoenix, the city said in a press release.

Outreach will continue in the streets throughout the week as part of a way to meet the city’s deadline, while the Office of Homeless Solutions will keep implementing new ways to serve the community with long-term housing solutions.

How long had The Zone cleanup been underway?

Phoenix began cleaning up The Zone in May after nearby residents and businesses sued the city for ignoring its responsibility to maintain the area and enforce laws there.  A judge initially ordered the cleanup in March without a hard deadline.

The process had taken months because the city didn’t want to force people out of The Zone without open shelter beds to offer.

However, urgency to finish the cleanup increased following the November deadline and the city’s ensuing request for an extension was denied.

A Maricopa County Superior Court judge said the city had ample time to clear The Zone in his ruling for a 45-day cleanup deadline.

What has Phoenix done to provide more beds to the homeless?

Since the Sept. 20 ruling, the city and its partners have been working to dramatically increase shelter space.

Three new shelters in partnership with A New Leaf, Central Arizona Shelter Services and Community Bridges recently opened to provide more beds and services.

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Phoenix finishes cleaning up final blocks of The Zone homeless encampment