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Homelessness in Arizona increased by over 23% from 2020-2022

A new report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development says homelessness in Arizona increased by more than 23% from 2020 to 2022 — a period of time when the national homelessness rate increased by only 1%.

Kelli Williams, director of Human Services with the Maricopa Association of Governments, says there’s an estimated 14,000 homeless people in Maricopa County alone.

“There needs to be greater access to affordable housing options for Arizonans, and there also needs to be a larger conversation on livable wages,” said Williams. She said even with day jobs, most people experiencing homelessness still cannot afford a place to live with the income they earn. 

Williams also pointed out that a “variety of societal issues” have contributed to increased homelessness rates across the country, particularly notable increases in housing prices.

The report comes right before MAG’s annual homelessness street count, where volunteers search areas that homeless people tend to sleep in to get a rough estimate on how many unhoused people are present in the region. The data from the count helps government bodies and charities address the region’s growing homelessness crisis. The count will be conducted on Jan. 24.

Rithwik Kalale is an intern for KJZZ. He graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, and is currently in his last semester of graduate school.Kalale has worked as a community and culture reporter for the State Press, as a health reporter for Arizona PBS and as an editorial assistant for Zócalo Public Square. He also produced and hosted his own show called "POP48" for Blaze Radio, ASU’s student station. His goal is to cover both digital and audio stories that spotlight underrepresented groups.Kalale is a Bay Area native, but splits his time between the U.S. and India, where his family lives. In his free time, Kalale likes to play video games, binge TV shows and attend concerts.