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Mayor Gallego gets the OK to start bigger homelessness plan for Phoenix

Homeless tents in Phoenix
Posted at 8:21 PM, Mar 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-05 06:56:03-05

PHOENIX, AZ — The Phoenix City Council unanimously approved allowing staff to begin making plans for a larger response to homelessness on Wednesday.

What that plan will look like remains to be seen, but council members all stressed a desire to make sure it includes reaching out to other cities, Maricopa County, the state, and federal governments.

Mayor Kate Gallego announced her intention to request the measure and $3 million to help pay for it during a Tuesday morning press conference.

"By green-lighting the process by which an expanded and enhanced homelessness plan is put together, we are sending a clear signal to neighboring communities that we are putting in the hard work and they should too," said Mayor Gallego.

The announcement was interrupted by District 7 Councilman Michael Nowakowski, who told ABC15 he was upset that the mayor had not responded to his two requests for a meeting on the topic.

His district houses the Human Services Campus which has the largest comprehensive homelessness services in the state, including an emergency shelter and homeless encampment that have grown since January.

The price tag was not up for a vote on Wednesday.

But the $3 million would come from the Phoenix general fund and is a starting point while staff figures out what the specific needs are, according to Gallego's spokesperson Annie DeGraw. She says homelessness and affordable housing solutions are all on the table.

Some advocates and council members have already said that the problem will be far more costly.

"I don't want staff to think $3 million is nearly enough. That is insane, it is not even close to being may be $15 million," said Councilman Sal DiCiccio.

"I do not believe $3 million is enough, because it's only 15% of what they are currently spending on homelessness," said Elizabeth Venable, an advocate with Fund For Empowerment. "But I consider it a small victory."