Homelessness in Arizona increased by over 23% from 2020-2022

By Rithwik Kalale
Published: Wednesday, January 11, 2023 - 5:23pm
Updated: Wednesday, January 11, 2023 - 5:52pm

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

A new report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development says homelessness in Arizona increased by more than 23% from 2020 to 2022 — a period of time when the national homelessness rate increased by only 1%.

Kelli Williams, director of Human Services with the Maricopa Association of Governments, says there’s an estimated 14,000 homeless people in Maricopa County alone.

“There needs to be greater access to affordable housing options for Arizonans, and there also needs to be a larger conversation on livable wages,” said Williams. She said even with day jobs, most people experiencing homelessness still cannot afford a place to live with the income they earn. 

Williams also pointed out that a “variety of societal issues” have contributed to increased homelessness rates across the country, particularly notable increases in housing prices.

The report comes right before MAG’s annual homelessness street count, where volunteers search areas that homeless people tend to sleep in to get a rough estimate on how many unhoused people are present in the region. The data from the count helps government bodies and charities address the region’s growing homelessness crisis. The count will be conducted on Jan. 24.