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Phoenix To Launch Homeless Encampment Program

Phoenix will soon launch a citywide homeless encampment program.
(Photo by Christina Estes - KJZZ)
Phoenix will soon launch a citywide homeless encampment program.

Phoenix is preparing to unveil a new plan to fight homelessness, improve neighborhoods and protect property owners’ rights.

One big problem is people don’t know who to contact when they see a homeless encampment. While police get many calls, so do other departments — from public works to transit, neighborhood services to libraries.

“We’ve all found out we’re spending a lot of time with no connectivity or collaboration,” Chris Hallett, neighborhood services director told a city subcommittee. “This program wraps all our services together and provides a single point of contact.”

Soon, there will be one number and one comprehensive plan. It’s called “PHX C.A.R.E.S.” which stands for community action response engagement services. When someone calls the designated number, the first response will be outreach and engagement.

Mo Gallegos, director of the Human Services Department, said the city will have at least one outreach team working seven days a week, from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m.

He said the teams will offer immediate help, explaining, “If you say you’ll go to shelter we’ll take you to shelter. If you say you’ll go to detox, we’ll take you to detox.”

Gallegos said about half the people are engaging with outreach teams — that doesn’t mean they’re accepting services, but they are sharing information.

Depending on the situation, other departments like housing or police may be called in. Calls will be tracked and data shared across city departments and with various stakeholders.

PHX C.A.R.E.S. should officially launch in October. Staff members are also planning neighborhood meetings in Council Districts 1, 3, 4 and 5.

As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.