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Study: Homelessness In Maricopa County Increases

By Tom Maxedon
Published: Wednesday, May 1, 2019 - 7:24am
Updated: Wednesday, May 1, 2019 - 7:31am

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homeless encampment
Jackie Hai/KJZZ
A homeless encampment built on the edge of 33rd Avenue south of Buckeye Road in Phoenix.

New numbers released this week from the Point-In-Time Count conducted in January show the homeless population in Maricopa County. has increased since last year to more than 6,600 people.

There has been a 22 percent increase from 2018 for those living on the street, in desert washes, or in vehicles. They make up 48 percent of the total homeless population in the count.

The other 52 percent stayed in shelters, transitional housing or safe haven programs.

Nearly 90 percent of the homeless people had lived in Maricopa County the previous year, with an additional seven percent coming from out of state and five percent from elsewhere in Arizona.

Amy Schwabenlender is co-chair of the Maricopa Regional Continuum of Care Board, which conducted the survey.

She said while the causal data has not been compiled, her experience leading the Human Services Campus in Phoenix has shown her that mental and physical health are contributing factors. “Just here at our campus where we see 800-1,000 people a day, 40 percent of those people report a mental health condition and people per day and another 30 percent a physical health condition which means there’s a lot of barriers to people maintaining affordable housing and then if they lose their housing finding new affordable housing.”

Schwabenlender said a more comprehensive report will be issued this fall and will take into account eviction rates and affordable housing as factors in the increase.

For the first time, the count also included a tally of pets, identifying a total of 182 animals on the street.