Phoenix will let homeless people camp in a lot near CASS

By Greg Hahne
Published: Thursday, June 29, 2023 - 3:03pm
Updated: Thursday, June 29, 2023 - 3:40pm

The Zone in Phoenix
Katherine Davis-Young/KJZZ
A sign notifies homeless residents in May 2023 they will no longer be allowed to camp in an area of downtown Phoenix known as "The Zone. "

The city of Phoenix is entering into an agreement with the state of Arizona to let unhoused people camp on a parcel near Central Arizona Shelter Services.

The state-owned at 15th Avenue and Jackson Street lot is next to a historic graveyard. 

City Council members passed the motion on an 8-1 vote. 

Phoenix Vice Mayor Yassamin Ansari gave the only opposing vote.

“The reason for the lawsuit in the first place is because this particular neighborhood has taken on the responsibility of pretty much addressing the entire state’s homelessness crisis," Ansari said. 

Some have accused the move as the city simply relocating the nearby homeless encampment called “The Zone.”

Multiple residents told City Council the move would not adequately address the needs of homeless people.

Elizabeth Venable with the nonprofit Fund For Empowerment said there are better ways to use city money to address homelessness. 

“We should invest our own money in long-term supportive housing," Venable

Rachel Milne, director of the Phoenix Office of Homeless Solutions, says the lot has benefits, including a steel shade-structure and an air-conditioned warehouse. She emphasized it is not a permanent solution, as they are seeking to run it for three years. 

“The end to homelessness is affordable housing and preventing people from going into homelessness. This option is a voluntary option and alternative option to individuals that maybe aren’t ready for the indoor options that we’ve offered," Milne said. 

Deputy City Manager Gina Montes told council the move will help officials follow through with a court mandate to clear “The Zone.”

The Zone downtown Phoenix
Tim Agne/KJZZ
Tents along 11th Avenue south of Jefferson Street in “The Zone” on March 28, 2023.

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