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Arizona Senate bill proposes state-sponsored homeless shelters with street camping bans

The Arizona Senate passed a bill this week that would use American Rescue Plan funds to develop state-sanctioned homeless camps across the state. 

Senate Bill 1581 would allow cities and counties to set up camps, but also require them to enforce bans on street camping.

The camps would be required to provide food and water, storage, and space to assemble indoor encampments to those without housing. They would also provide mental health, case management and other services.

Sen. David Livingston of Peoria sponsored the bill.

“Six-hundree people died in Maricopa on the streets in the last year. We need to quickly find ways to put people in safer environments, that they can have shelter, they can have water, they can have bathrooms, and they can get food,” said Livingston.

In 2019, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that states within the circuit, including Arizona, cannot enforce bans on street camping unless they provide enough beds as an alternative.

Sen. Raquel Terán voted no on the bill, citing uncertainty around the street camping enforcement requirement.

“For municipalities to be eligible for the grant, they would have to enforce ordinances relating to prosecution of homelessness, folks sleeping or staying in non-sanctioned home sites,” said Terán.

She says she is unsure how municipalities will enforce these ordinances, which the bill states must be done in order for camps to be funded using American Rescue Plan money.

Vaughan Jones is the weekend reporter for KJZZ, and a graduate of ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism, with a minor in music. As a Phoenix native, Jones’s dream is to serve his community by covering important stories in the metropolitan area.He spent two years as music director at Blaze Radio, ASU’s student-run radio station. His passion for radio stems from joining Blaze his freshman year as a DJ.When he is not working, Jones can be found writing music with his band, playing video games with his friends, or watching his favorite Phoenix-area sports teams.