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Number of unhoused people in Tempe drops 31%, city says

As unsheltered populations have been rising throughout the Valley, Tempe has seen a significant year-over-year drop. The city reported the number of unhoused people plunged from 515 last summer to 355 in the latest count. That represents a 31% drop.

Tim Burch, the city’s community health and human services director, credits the expansion of Tempe’s HOPE outreach team, which now offers a 24/7 line for individuals to call for help. He says the team is connecting with people every day to discuss options for getting off the streets.

“Because we know it may take one, 10 or 30 contacts with a particular person before they are ready to make that cognizant decision, and our goal is to be there whenever and wherever that happens,” he said.

Another reason for the decline was an effort earlier in the year to clear out a homeless encampment in the Salt River bed. Burch says the city saw an almost 85 percent rate of individuals who accepted assistance afterward.

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Andrea Barrios is an intern at KJZZ. She is a recent graduate from Grand Canyon University. She has received a bachelor's degree in digital film with an emphasis in production. Her experience is in a wide range of productions including theater, feature films, music videos, sports broadcasts and podcasts. Her passion is finding and telling stories about underdogs who overcame their circumstances despite adversity.