(The Center Square)– A large homeless encampment in downtown Phoenix no longer exists after a monthslong effort to clear it out.
The area known as ‘The Zone’ near the state capitol had become a humanitarian and public safety point of concern by officials and community stakeholders alike.
The city of Phoenix was court-ordered to clean out the encampment by Nov. 4, and they were a few days ahead of schedule, according to the Daily Independent. The city tried to buy themselves extra time, but a Maricopa County Superior Court Judge rejected an extension, The Arizona Republic reported.
In a news release, the city said that 585 people have been moved into shelter, but 718 were offered help in total since they started to clear out the area in May. The city added that the former encampment has signage posted to stop people from camping there, but said that they will still put resources in the area to “maintain” it.
“If individuals are found to be camping in the closed areas, the City will make efforts to engage and offer alternative locations. If services are declined and individuals continue to stay in a restricted area, officers have the authority to issue a citation or make an arrest,” the news release stated.
On a county level, there were an estimated 9,642 homeless individuals as of January, according to the Maricopa County Association of Governments yearly “Point-In-Time” count. Of the nearly 10,000, 4,908 of them were considered unsheltered. Since the new data will not be released until early 2024, it’s unclear how those numbers will look different given the Zone’s termination.
However, the city is looking beyond traditional shelter options for homeless residents. The city opened a “Safe Outdoor Space” with resources that 21 people are currently living at, the news release said.