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Arizona leaders react to Supreme Court’s homelessness ruling

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(The Center Square) – Arizona Senate President Warren Petersen is pleased with the United States Supreme Court’s decision on homelessness Friday.

The court ruled that it is not “cruel and unusual punishment” for cities not to allow people to camp outside, as many urban areas have dealt with large encampments, according to ABC News. Petersen said that legislation could be on the table regarding homelessness in the “near future” following the ruling.

“This ruling is a victory in our state’s efforts to tackle the humanitarian crisis destroying lives and livelihoods within our communities on a daily basis,” Petersen said.

The City of Phoenix had its own well-known homelessness encampment dubbed “The Zone” blocks from the state Capitol until it was court-ordered to be cleaned up last year.

“Our children shouldn’t be forced to walk to school on streets littered with needles, feces, and trash. The individuals camping out should be discouraged from this practice through enforceable laws and be provided with the mental health or substance abuse services they need to overcome this terrible situation,” he added.

Republican leadership in the Arizona State Legislature filed an amicus brief in the case, given the unique local circumstance of hundreds of residents living in tents along a few city blocks. The Center Square reported in November that 585 people from the encampment ended up getting sheltered at the time.

However, some Arizona Democrats warned that the court’s ruling is not the best path forward in homelessness policy.

“This is horrific. And make no mistake: it WILL make homelessness worse as cities are now emboldened to continue doing the bare minimum to address this crisis. Housing solves homelessness, NOT criminalization,” Rep. Analise Ortiz, D-Phoenix, tweeted.

The latest point-in-time homelessness count determined that there are roughly 9,500 people facing homelessness in Maricopa County.

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