Phoenix to Start Clearing Downtown Homeless Camp

    Phoenix to Start Clearing Downtown Homeless Camp
    Last updated May 10, 2023
    Image credit: Gabe Cohen, CNN


    • Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Scott Blaney ruled Monday that city officials must act quickly to find accommodation for the hundreds of homeless camping out in a large stretch of downtown Phoenix, commonly known as “The Zone.”[1]
    • After the judge ruled in favor of neighbors and business owners who sued the city — calling the encampment an illegal “public nuisance" — Phoenix must permanently clear the encampment.[2]
    • Phoenix has become a flashpoint in a national debate over how to deal with the growth of street encampments; where residents live in deep poverty and some face mental health issues or drug addiction.[3]
    • City officials have said they plan to remove tents, block by block, starting Wednesday. Outreach workers will first offer residents of the encampment other housing options. Once the city clears each block, it will prevent people from returning to camp there.[4]
    • Maricopa's latest point-in-time count revealed that there are more than 9K homeless people in the county — about 1K of them live in "the Zone."[5]
    • As Phoenix officials prepare to start moving tents out of the Zone, they're also scrambling to create safe options for the displaced: leasing more hotel rooms and vacant buildings to convert into shelters, as well as building an outdoor campground with security, restrooms, and hand-washing stations. However, those won't be available right away.[2]


    Pro-establishment narrative

    The city of Phoenix remains committed to addressing the needs of all residents and property owners, and to upholding the law. Phoenix will continue to work with organizations that provide safe indoor spaces and resources for people in need to help end their homelessness.

    Establishment-critical narrative

    Phoenix has been sued by groups that contend the city's police force has engaged in unfair practices toward its homeless population. The American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona has leveled allegations that the city of Phoenix's policies "criminalize" homelessness and the US Department of Justice is even investigating the Phoenix Police Department over claims that it unlawfully seizes or disposes of the homeless' belongings. The city's attitude towards the homeless population requires serious scrutiny.

    Nerd narrative

    There is a 40% chance that the total number of people staying in NYC homeless shelters exceeds 100,000 on any day in 2023, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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