In an effort to secure federal funding, hundreds of volunteers searched across the Valley Tuesday morning as part of an annual effort to count homeless people.
Coordinated by the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG), more than 300 volunteers went out from 6 to 9 a.m. to count and interview homeless individuals in specific geographic areas throughout Maricopa County. They used surveys to gain insight into each person's situation. For those who refused the survey or were asleep, volunteers used separate observation sheets. Volunteers included city, county, and state agencies, faith- and community-based organizations, businesses, and private residents.
Although this year's count won't be finalized for a few months, homelessness in Arizona seems to be on the decline. After MAG hit a high of 2,918 homeless men, women, and children in its 2009 count, homeless numbers have decreased steadily, continuing though last year's count of 1,581. Based on last year's numbers, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provided $25 million to Maricopa County in 2013. MAG Human Services Program Manager Brande Mead says the funding is essential to fight homelessness in the valley.
"The money we receive (from HUD) provides housing in support of services for the homeless men, women and children throughout the region," Mead said.
HUD has given $269 million to the region since 1999.
This year's homeless count comes a few months after Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton's push to house house every homeless veteran by Christmas.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.