Can A Website Help Phoenix Campus Add Beds For Homeless?

By Christina Estes
Published: Monday, March 30, 2020 - 5:05am

trash outside tents
Christina Estes/KJZZ
Trash outside tents near Ninth Avenue and Jackson Street on Feb. 5, 2020.

Maricopa County’s largest provider of homeless services has launched a website in hopes of garnering public support to add beds to its Human Services Campus. 

The 13-acre campus located between downtown Phoenix and the state Capitol complex houses 16 nonprofits. They provide food, health care and job training, but there aren’t enough beds and businesses have complained about hundreds of people living in tents around their property. 

More than a year ago, the campus filed paperwork with the city asking to add beds. Executive Director Amy Schwabenlender said the request is to change the language of the existing stipulation which says a maximum of 425 beds to say a maximum of up to 1,000 beds.

man lugging belongings
Christina Estes/KJZZ
People were told to break down tents and collect their belongings so Phoenix crews could clear and clean streets on Feb. 5, 2020.

“We’re not expanding the campus because the request is to add shelter beds in buildings that already exist,” she said. “It’s not about making the campus a bigger footprint of building new buildings. The beds would be in buildings that already exist.”

Through a new website, the campus explains the current and requested beds as:

In light of the coronavirus outbreak, Schwabenlender said there was debate about whether to launch the site now, “And, Actually right now when some people are working from home or they're just at  home they have the ability to be on our website and read and learn and send support letters and sign petitions.”

On March 3, before the coronavirus crisis, Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego announced she would support more beds with conditions to address health, safety and long-term sustainability. At that time, Gallego also said Gov. Doug Ducey agreed to convene all mayors in Maricopa County for a summit on homelessness.

Through the website, which encourages people to sign a petition and send letters of support, Schwabenlender said the campus wants to support Gallego’s call for a city plan and a regional plan on homeless issues. The campus request for more beds must still make its way through the Central City Village Planning Committee and Phoenix Planning Commission before the City Council will vote.