Tempe Completes First Ever Summer Homeless Count

By Grayson Schmidt
Published: Monday, July 1, 2019 - 8:47am
Updated: Tuesday, July 2, 2019 - 9:34am

Volunteers survey during first ever Tempe summer homeless count
Susie Steckner/City of Tempe
The city of Tempe completed its first ever summertime homeless count Friday, to compare differences between the annual January count.

Roughly 35 volunteers surveyed the homeless population in Tempe on Friday as part of the city’s first summer homeless count.

The results are not expected to be released for another few weeks. Tempe Deputy Human Services Director Paul Bentley said this survey should answer some questions that remained following the annual January count.

“Not only are we gathering demographic information — age, race, ethnicity, gender — but we're also asking questions about substance abuse, mental health, physical disabilities, and that information is imperative for us to understand how we tailor our services,” Bentley said.

Bentley says there are only two new questions in this survey: one about pets and one about previous cities.

The first question specifically asks for the number of pets a person experiencing homelessness has, as Bentley said his office has heard that pets can be a major barrier for people trying to obtain services.

Bentley said the second question is designed to learn which city a person came from, and how long the person was there, to see if more people are coming to Tempe in the summer versus the winter.

“Those were two significant changes that we will be incorporating into further counts,
not just this one for the summer,” Bentley said.

In January, Tempe counted 373 people experiencing homelessness, up from 276 the previous year.

“There is a belief that a significant number of individuals that are experiencing homelessness have so many forms of substance use, or a physical disability or mental disability, and that was consistent in the surveys that I was a part of [Friday],” Bentley said. “That information is very helpful to us to see whether or not those things are co-occurring or if there's a specific area that we have underrepresented based on the data that we're getting.”

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