Phoenix Concludes Disbandment of Downtown Homeless Camp, Assists Over 500 to Secure Shelter

by Andrew Wright
Phoenix homeless encampment clearance

In compliance with a court-mandated deadline, Phoenix has accomplished the dismantling of a significant downtown homeless camp by providing shelter for upwards of 500 individuals in local shelters and hotels by Saturday.

The once pervasive tent city that sprawled across multiple city blocks has been removed. The streets now bear a sparse presence of a few individuals or those transporting their possessions in carts.

Lily Bitsui, 33, shared her experience: “I used to share a tent with a friend who has since moved into a shelter,” expressing a sense of disorientation. Bitsui was not present when city officials extended assistance for shelter.

The area’s reduction in crime has been noted by Rudy Soliz, operations director at the Justa Center, which offers daytime support for the homeless aged population, including meal services and housing aid. Soliz remarked on the positive change with many individuals relocating to shelters.

Soliz acknowledged the program’s role in lowering local crime rates.

This initiative began in the spring, with the city systematically addressing one block after another, proposing indoor accommodations to those living on the streets. These provisions included emergency shelters, brief hotel stays, and more enduring transitional housing for the elderly.

Following the clearance of each of the 15 affected blocks, sanitation efforts ensued and preventative measures were implemented against future encampments.

City representatives disclosed that, over a period of months, 718 individuals were approached with housing assistance, with 585 — which equates to roughly 80% — accepting the offer. Furthermore, Phoenix has inaugurated a rezoned city parking area for the homeless to erect tents within a supervised and safer environment.

The city conveyed that currently, 21 individuals have taken up residence at this facility, which is equipped with portable toilets and showers, meal distribution, personal item storage, security, and a behavioral code for residents. The imposition of restrictions on substances and open fires is enforced, alongside a prohibition of camping on the property’s periphery.

The placement of a considerable number of people was feasible due to the addition of 482 new temporary beds this year, 362 of which were introduced in October alone. This complements the 600 beds available at the city’s primary emergency shelter.

Judge Scott Blaney of the Maricopa County Superior Court, as of October, rejected a plea from city authorities for an extension to clear “The Zone” encampment, reasserting the Saturday deadline. A forthcoming hearing on November 30 will confirm Phoenix’s adherence to the November deadline.

Phoenix mirrors the struggle of numerous other large cities, attempting to mediate between the concerns of businesses and homeowners and the rights of the homeless population. Business operators and residents have previously described the encampment as a public disturbance that led to property damage, litter, and criminal activity.

In 2019, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decreed that without available shelter options, homeless individuals cannot be penalized for sleeping outdoors.

The city recognizes that despite meeting the court’s deadline, the work is not complete. “The city’s commitment is to the dual objectives of securing safe housing and services for every person while maintaining the quality of life in our communities for all residents,” stated the city.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Phoenix homeless encampment clearance

How did Phoenix address the downtown homeless encampment issue?

Phoenix successfully cleared a large downtown homeless encampment by the court-ordered deadline, aiding over 500 individuals to find alternative shelter in local shelters and hotels.

What was the outcome for the area previously occupied by the encampment?

Post-clearance, the area saw a notable reduction in crime and the previous tent city has been dismantled, leaving the streets with significantly fewer people and belongings.

What kind of shelter options were provided to the homeless individuals?

The city offered various shelter options including emergency shelters, temporary motel stays, and transitional housing, especially for the elderly.

How many people accepted the offer for shelter?

Out of the 718 people who were offered assistance, about 585, approximately 80%, accepted placements in shelters.

What facilities are provided at the new controlled camping area in Phoenix?

The city has established a controlled camping area with amenities such as portable toilets, showers, meal services, storage for belongings, security, and a strict code of conduct.

Will the city continue its efforts after meeting the court deadline?

The city acknowledges ongoing work to ensure safe housing and services for every person while preserving the quality of life for all residents.

What does the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling state regarding homelessness?

The ruling from 2019 states that homeless individuals cannot be criminalized for sleeping outside when no shelter alternatives are available.

More about Phoenix homeless encampment clearance

  • Phoenix Homeless Initiatives
  • Downtown Encampment Clearance
  • Shelter Alternatives and Homeless Support
  • City’s Managed Camping Site
  • Maricopa County Court Rulings
  • U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Decision on Homelessness

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Gary S November 4, 2023 - 9:15 pm

a city parking lot for tents, seriously? that’s good I guess better than sidewalks. but how long will they let them stay there

Sandra T November 4, 2023 - 9:20 pm

i’ve seen the tents for months it’s like out of sight out of mind, right? hope those folks really get the long-term help they need not just a quick fix

Mike R. November 5, 2023 - 10:45 am

just read about the Phoenix clearing homeless people out honestly its good to see them getting help, but what happens next will they stay in shelters or is this just temporary?

Johnathan K November 5, 2023 - 1:43 pm

Heard about the court order. they had to clear ‘The Zone’ by Saturday it seems like the city did a decent job by finding shelter for so many

Lisa Q November 5, 2023 - 5:33 pm

saw the cleared blocks today looks better but it’s the people that matter not just the streets. are there enough beds for all?


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