Phoenix Buying Land for Structured Campground for City’s Growing Homeless Population

Judge Denies Phoenix Request Seeking Extra Time to Clean Up 'The Zone'

PHOENIX, AZ - MAY 2: A person's tent on 11 Avenue in Phoenix, Arizona on May 2, 2023. Nearby business owners recently sued the City of Phoenix to force them to displace community members experiencing homelessness and hardship in The Zone, a place where people congregate around the Human Services Campus, where there are several major shelters, a medical center, and respite centers during extreme heat. (Caitlin O'Hara for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

By Associated Press

July 7, 2023

The campground is expected to handle more than 400 people and have security, bathrooms, showers, and an indoor cooling center.

The Phoenix City Council has approved the purchase of 4.2 acres of state-owned property for building a structured campground for the city’s growing homeless population.

The Arizona Republic reports that the targeted area is two blocks from the Human Services Campus, where more than a dozen homeless services nonprofits are located.

The now-vacant land was previously used for the state’s surplus property.

RELATED: Phoenix Faces Dueling Lawsuits Over Homeless Crisis as Advocates Scramble for More Shelter

Pending council approval, the city will enter into a licensing agreement for the land with the state in August with plans to purchase the land by Oct. 1.

The state land will cost the city $5.4 million and the campground an additional $3 to $4 million per year to operate, according to the Republic.

City officials say the cost will be partially covered by grant funds.

They said the planned campground would give people who aren’t ready to be at shelters a place to safely camp.

It is expected to handle more than 400 people and have security, bathrooms, showers, and an indoor cooling center.

City officials said the camp would be totally voluntary with the services preparing people to move to an indoor shelter or off the streets entirely.

The city estimates the campground will operate for two to three years.

“Until we have the availability for everyone to have an indoor place, and until everyone is ready for an indoor place, this is an excellent alternative,” Rachel Milne, director of the Phoenix’s Office of Homeless Solutions, told the Republic.

Phoenix is under a court order to clean up a large homeless encampment in the downtown area.

In March, the judge in a lawsuit filed on behalf of area residents and business owners ordered the city to devise a plan for enhanced cleanup operations for the encampment known as “The Zone.”

The block-by-block cleanup started May 10 and continues every two or three weeks to ensure there is shelter space for everyone who has to relocate.


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