PHOENIX - People who drive on the Valley freeways may have noticed more homeless encampments in some areas.
According to the 2020 Point-in-Time Count conducted by Maricopa County officials, there are over 7,400 people experiencing homelessness in the county on the night of Jan. 27, 2020. Of these, 51% of them are considered to be unsheltered.
Another Point-In-Time Count is scheduled for Jan. 25, 2022.
Homeless encampment pops up along I-17
One of the areas with homeless encampments is along the I-17.
It is a striking image: replicas of the American flag being used as part of tents, or displayed at a homeless encampment.
David Johnson lives in one of those encampments.
"It's just a representation of what we have gone through and what we've fought for, simply for where we stand" said Johnson. "Everyone has tough times. Some tougher than others."
Johnson moved to the Phoenix area from Virginia a year ago, hoping to get a landscaping job. It did not work out and, he wound up homeless. However, he remains grateful.
"Not happy, but I am proud to be an American. That's A-1."
Flags are snow covers distributed by charity
The replica flags, according to Johnson, are actually snow covers that St. Vincent de Paul handed out to the homeless, so they might better weather the cold.
One man who did not want to show his face says the flags are ironic to him.
"It's the hypocrisy that you have a country that's willing to spend a lot of money on the border wall or prisons in Arizona, which are disgusting, but they are not willing to help people that are truly struggling.," said the man.
Less than a block away, St. Vincent de Paul runs its resource center, providing meals, and other support to the homeless. Many expect the numbers of people needing help will surge in 2022.
City of Phoenix Homeless Services
- 'It is simply inhumane': Phoenix homeless advocates criticize city sweeps of encampments
- Phoenix Rescue Mission takes new approach to transform lives of homeless people
- Old north Phoenix hotel to be converted into senior homeless shelter