Street count shows rise in homelessness

Numbers released April 30 from the “point-in-time” count conducted in January show 6,614 people experiencing homelessness within the region. (Special to Independent Newsmedia/ArielleJay—file photo)

The number of people experiencing homelessness continues to increase in Maricopa County, with those living in unsheltered situations climbing for the sixth straight year.

Numbers released April 30 from the “point-in-time” count conducted in January show 6,614 people experiencing homelessness within the region, an increase of 316 people over 2018. 13 percent reported to be experiencing homelessness for the first time, which translates to just over 400 people, according to a release.

The unsheltered count portion identified 3,188 people living in a place not meant for human habitation, such as on the street, in desert washes or in vehicles. The unsheltered count increased by 22% over 2018.

“We are not surprised, and we are troubled by these numbers,” Amy Schwabenlender, co-chair of the Maricopa Regional Continuum of Care Board and executive director of the Human Services Campus, said in the release.

“This should be of concern to everyone living in the Valley. The ripple effects of homelessness touch individuals, families, neighborhoods, and communities. These are first and foremost human impacts, and at the same time they profoundly weave into societal and economic impacts,” she said.

The Continuum of Care submitted the required point-in-time data to the Department of Housing and Urban Development April 30. The Continuum of Care will release a full analysis of the 2019 count later this year, according to the release.

Analyzing data is a collaborative effort and is time consuming, Tempe Police Sgt. Robert Ferraro, also co-chair of the Maricopa Regional Continuum of Care Board, said in the release.

“We will dive deeper into the findings to better understand root causes of homelessness,” Sgt. Ferraro said.

“We want to know what leads to chronic homelessness, what leads to first-time homelessness, and the causes of Veteran and family homelessness,” he said. “The Continuum of Care will look at factors such as eviction rates and affordable housing, and see what solutions we can recommend.”

For the first time, the 2019 unsheltered count also included a tally of pets. Overall data identified 182 pets on the street, 10 of which were service animals.

The Queen Creek Independent publishes a daily newsletter and website. A print edition is mailed each month to 24,000 homes.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment