City of Phoenix approves creation of new homeless campground

The Phoenix City Council has approved the purchase of a new compound intended to accommodate the homeless population.

On June 28, members of the council approved in an 8-1 vote to license and buy a plot of land near "The Zone" in an effort to create a structured campground.

City officials say the 4.2 acre space would give people who are not ready to be at shelters a place to safely camp. 

The land is two blocks away from the Human Services Campus, and it is slated to accommodate well over 100 people, complete with security, bathrooms, showers, and an indoor cooling center.

In locations where people would sit or lie down, the city added tarps. Padding would be installed for heat relief.

City leaders stress this would be 100% voluntary, with all of these services preparing people to move to an indoor shelter or off the streets entirely.

The plot of state-owned land will cost $5.4 million, and city officials say the cost will be partially covered by grant funds.

Some activists, as well as some who are currently unhoused, are upset at the idea, sharing concerns it would be too hot and wouldn’t help people much.

"I’m a former resident of The Zone, and a lot of people just pass out and die, especially from just being outside," said one person, identified only as ‘Rory.’

"Tents to a black top is more of a lateral move, not an ascending move," said Tony Harris.

Meanwhile, city workers and city council members defended the plan, saying it will be much safer and much cleaner than The Zone.


How is 'The Zone' cleanup going so far? Business owner sounds off

The man who has become the voice of the businesses dealing with The Zone's impact says Phoenix's efforts are not helping.

"Some people may not go - and we aren’t kidnapping them and forcing them to go - so this would be a voluntary, safe place to go," said City Councilmember Jim Waring.

"We have determined at this point, it’s an option that’s important to comply with court order," said one city official.

In a statement, city officials said they are committed to increasing both affordable housing and indoor shelter beds. Officials also said they have added 70 new beds this year, with an additional 840 planned, through 2024.