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Housing First model approaches homelessness differently than traditional methods

Homelessness is hard to escape in the Valley today. We see it everywhere — people on street corners holding up signs, sleeping bags behind a hedge of oleanders, and then there are, the makeshift tents and piling up trash surrounding the so-called “Zone” in downtown Phoenix, where hundreds of people experiencing homelessness are currently being relocated by city officials under a court order.

But we also feel it in other ways that might be less visible — the high cost of housing prices squeezing people out of their homes, a kid in the classroom who hasn’t slept or eaten, a friend of a friend whose drug addiction pushed them over the edge and onto the street.

The Maricopa Association of Governments reports more than 28,000 residents were experiencing homelessness here between July of last year and June of this year. That includes more than 8,400 people in just June 2023. It’s a pervasive issue that impacts us all in one way or another— and it's not just happening in downtown Phoenix. 

This week, The Show will be talking about the challenges of homelessness, as well as potential solutions in a series called: "Valley Spotlight: Homelessness."

Our first conversation is with Sam Tsemberis. He is a clinical community psychologist at UCLA and CEO of Pathways to Housing. He is also the creator of the Housing First model, which cities across the country, including in Arizona, have adopted. He joined The Show to talk about this approach.

More stories about homelessness from The Show

Mark Brodie is a co-host of The Show, KJZZ’s locally produced news magazine. Since starting at KJZZ in 2002, Brodie has been a host, reporter and producer, including several years covering the Arizona Legislature, based at the Capitol.