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For one business owner, the problems from 'The Zone' haven't gone away yet

UPDATE: Joe and Debbie Faillace announced in March 2024 they are closing Old Station Sub Shop after 38 years.

A judge denied the city of Phoenix’s request for more time to clear out the region’s largest homeless encampment dubbed “The Zone” this week. Now, the city has just one month left to clean up the tent-and-trash riddled area and find housing for nearly 500 people who still live there. 

The move comes after a long back-and-forth between the judge, the city and a group of business owners and residents in the area who sued over conditions in the Zone.

One of those business owners is Joe Faillace. He’s run Old Station Sub Shop on the corner of 13th Avenue and Jefferson Street with his wife, Debbie, for the last 40 years.

But recently, Debbie left for Prescott. She was sick of the constant chaos of trying to run a business in the midst of the explosion of homelessness many cities like ours have seen across the west in recent years. 

The Faillaces are used to cleaning up human waste and drug paraphernalia, dealing with stolen goods, and calling the police to help people passed out on the sidewalk in front of their business. They’ve replaced their glass windows with plexiglass, put up a wrought iron fence around the property and tried to help many of the people living in the Zone who are willing to work.

It’s all documented in an extensive profile of the couple in the New York Times earlier this year.

The Show sat down with Joe at his restaurant and he told us that even as the city is clearing up the Zone, he's not likely to keep Old Station going much longer.

More stories about homelessness from The Show

Lauren Gilger, host of KJZZ's The Show, is an award-winning journalist whose work has impacted communities large and small, exposing injustices and giving a voice to the voiceless and marginalized.