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City of Phoenix to begin enforcing homeless encampment ordinance downtown

Posted at 6:29 PM, Jan 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-04 22:12:38-05

A homeless camp recently set up in downtown Phoenix is getting a lot of backlash from people in the area.

Representatives from the City of Phoenix say the encampment near 3rd and Roosevelt streets needs to be removed and that they will provide services for the transients. 

A statement released by the City of Phoenix Tuesday says that camping on city property is illegal, however, in this instance, the area was "deemed to house utilities" therefore, laying or sleeping in a right-of-way area is not OK.

According to city officials, neighbors recently complained about the growing transient camp saying it's become a public health hazard due to the unsanitary conditions of people living in the space. However, some of the people living there say they have no other choice.

"When you're family disowns you because of who your mother is, it's kind of difficult," Dillon Lewis said. Lewis was kicked out of his home and has been living on the streets ever since.

"A couple of my buddies were staying here so I decided to come help them out," Lewis said. "When they told me cops were messing with them...I decided to come stay over here and help them out and support them."

Lewis says they're more than friends – they're family. Now they're fighting to stay where they are. However, they're receiving a lot of backlash from residents of the upscale neighborhood.

Multiple residents spoke to ABC15 but chose to stay anonymous. They explained there has been an increase in needles and feces in the area.

Homeless outreach teams say they have offered support to people at the camp on "at least seven occasions" over the past two weeks, city officials said. Only a few people have accepted the help.

To combat this issue, city employees will begin enforcing the ordinance, representatives stated. However, they'll continue to offer help and services to individuals currently in the area.

The City of Phoenix released the following statement regarding the issue:

This is a unique situation that continues to be a work in progress to find solutions for all involved including the neighborhood.  Our homeless outreach teams from PHX C.A.R.E.S. are still working to connect individuals camping in the area to services.  Those teams have made numerous contacts and some people have chosen to accept the city’s offer for assistance.  The city continues to evaluate the situation for next steps,  including the placement of signs as part of our education and outreach that let the public know camping is not allowed.  The signs are expected to be installed within the next several days.