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County opening parking lot to space out homeless encampment

Homeless tents in Phoenix
Posted at 7:32 PM, Apr 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-14 22:34:45-04

PHOENIX, AZ — Maricopa County officials are releasing details about how it is handling coronavirus prevention and treatment within the homeless population.

So far the County reports zero positive COVID-19 cases among those that are experiencing homelessness. ABC15 could not get the number of tests performed from Circle the City, the non-profit tasked with providing medical care for people who are homeless on the Human Services Campus (HSC).

The campus has begun making changes in response to coronavirus concerns.

Eight medical isolation tents have been set up on the campus with a capacity of 40 patients according to Circle the City. Portable toilets and hand-washing stations have been installed in the past several weeks. Portable showers are also being put on the campus.

In a March 23 interview Bruce Liggett with Maricopa County Human Services told ABC15 the department was working to identify locations where unsheltered homeless on HSC and those who live in encampments outside could spread out and safely distance.

Since then, the county has signed an agreement with non-profit The New Foundation to lease its facility in south Scottsdale for up to six months. Until December 2019, the building was used as one of the few juvenile residential behavioral health facilities in Arizona.

Maricopa County Board of Supervisors (BOS) approved funding for the temporary shelter of up to 50 of the most vulnerable people experiencing homelessness, at the objection of the City of Scottsdale according to discussion during the April 8 BOS meeting.

The county also confirmed that hotels and other spaces are in negotiations to be used, but cannot be disclosed until the agreements are finalized.

It was also confirmed on Tuesday, that a vacant lot will be opened to those who are living in encampments in downtown Phoenix and surrounding areas.

The goal is to create more distance and “attempt to reduce the risk of diseases spread among those camping outside the campus,” according to county spokesman Fields Moseley.

He says moving to the space will be voluntary. The lot is located between 8th and 9th Avenues from Jefferson to Madison Streets.