PHOENIX - A camp for homeless veterans is being forced to move off the property they’ve been staying for the past several months.
The Arizona Department of Transportation posted a sign at the site near Loop 202 and Alma School Road saying that the area is state-owned property. ADOT officials gave the veterans a March 20 deadline to clear the property after notifying them on February 24.
Jeff Kagan, Veterans on Patrol resource director, said they were originally ordered to leave sooner, but the group asked for more time.
"To give a safe transition for our veterans. A lot of them are in their early stages of sobriety, so any dramatic changes could make them slip back,” Kagan said.
With the sun beating down on them, the veterans hauled their belongings to a trailer. They'll be moving the camp to a temporary location at 19th Avenue and Camelback Road, where Kagan said a property owner is allowing them to stay for 90 days.
“We’re still in search for a permanent, private property…preferably veteran-owned, that’s wanting to help homeless vets and is willing to let us set up camp,” Kagan said.
Kagan said they'll keep their tent set-up because it's familiar to the veterans.
"When it comes to brick and mortar, they’re [ the veterans ] so used to being out in the desert, they’re so used to being in a tent for however many years, that that's what their used to. So it kind of transitions them,” Kagan said.
He said Veterans on Patrol is about watching out for each other, establishing support and community for these vets who need help.
"There are guys that fall back in, but we are there to catch them. We are here about second chances,” Kagan said.
ADOT released the following statement to ABC15: "The State of Arizona is committed to protecting veterans and helping break the cycle of homelessness. Since this camp moved onto ADOT property on Dec. 6, the state’s desire has been to assist the individuals in this area by helping to find them shelter and assistance. With that goal in mind, teams from the state have visited on multiple occasions to offer assistance to veterans and others."