Maricopa County's Annual Homeless Count Canceled Over Virus Fears

By Jill Ryan
Associated Press
Published: Wednesday, January 6, 2021 - 8:11am
Updated: Tuesday, February 23, 2021 - 1:02pm

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Woman sitting outside next to tent
Christina Estes/KJZZ
A woman sits outside a tent at 11th Avenue and Madison Street in Phoenix on Feb. 2, 2020.

Last week, Maricopa County canceled their annual count of people living on the streets. 

Every year, the county conducts a count of how many people are experiencing homelessness. The results are usually separated into two categories: unsheltered, those living on the streets — or sheltered, those in shelters.

But due to COVID-19, the Maricopa Association of Governments has cancelled the unsheltered count for 2021. Sarah Kent, human services planner for the Maricopa Regional Continuum of Care, said Monday that although agencies won't count people outside this year, they will tally those inside shelters.

Last year, the county had over 7,400 people experiencing sheltered and unsheltered homelessness, the highest total in the past five years. Unsheltered homelessness grew 18% from 2019 to 2020. 

Maricopa County's largest shelter has a maximum of 470 beds during non-pandemic times.

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