Annual Maricopa County Point-In-Time Homeless Count Underway For 2019

Published: Tuesday, January 22, 2019 - 12:08pm
Updated: Wednesday, January 23, 2019 - 9:10am
Hadera Myer
Holliday Moore interviews “Jessica,” one of the hundreds of unsheltered homeless people sleeping on valley streets during the annual point-in-time homeless count on Jan. 22, 2019.

Hundreds of volunteers woke up before the sun Tuesday morning to count the number of men, women and children living on the streets in Maricopa County and — in some cases — homeless pets too. 

“We arrive this early because we really want to catch people where they spent the night, so as they’re waking up — before they start moving into other areas,” said Kelly Taft with the Maricopa Association of Governments as they set out searching in grids at 5:30 a.m.

Temperatures had dropped into the mid-30s before dawn, as people slept in the parks, under overpasses and at bus stops.

The numbers added up here will be combined with homeless and transitional housing numbers.

“It informs our planning effort, whether the population is growing or making some progress,” Taft said.

The last count showed a 12 percent jump in the number of people living without shelter in the Maricopa County region, adding roughly 500 individuals to the unsheltered rolls.

The trend has rapidly risen for the past four years.

“Since 2014, the number of unsheltered homeless has risen 149 percent,” Taft reflected.

As for a chief cause, she said, “we do believe that’s partly due to the lack of affordable housing.”

Data collected from each region is being sent to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which will release its annual nationwide homeless report near the end of 2019.

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