City takes action on homeless encampment at Downtown Phoenix intersection

Following numerous complaints, the City of Phoenix stepped up efforts to move a homeless encampment that has cropped up in a high profile spot in Downtown Phoenix.

The area is in the center of a new upscale apartment development, and the problem is sensitive and complex. Dozens of homeless were camping there, but officials with the City of Phoenix said when they were offered shelter, opportunity to look for employment and health care, it is tough to get people to trust them and take advantage of these services.

On Wednesday, the City stepped up its efforts to get the homeless to move. It was an emotional day as City employees and police moved in to try to get homeless people to clear the area, located at 3rd Street and Roosevelt.

Mid-morning, Black Lives Matter activist JJ Johnson arrived to advocate for the homeless, highly critical of the city's handling of the people he says deserve more.

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"It's shameful," said Johnson. "It's shameful these people need a place to go and a place to be where they can be safe and not harassed."

City officials said based on public health concerns like human waste, as well as drug needles they found on site, they needed to enforce the "No Camping" ordinance for a public right of way.

"At some point in time, and I'm not sure what time that will be as a city because it continues to be complex issue, we'll have to move from those individuals who have chosen not to use services to moving them, because it is a public right of way," said Marchelle Franklin, the interim Human Relations Director for Phoenix.

Officials with the City of Phoenix said they had a place for every single person at the site to go that was safe and had food and showers. The reasons most don't take up the city on the offer is complicated.

A woman, identified as "Lisa", was there with her husband and dog. They will not leave the dog, even though the city has a foster pet home set up until the couple finds permanent housing.

"I'm not giving up my dog," said Lisa. "He's like my son."

City officials stressed how hard they have tried to get the people to take advantage of the services, and they can't make them do it, but they also say there comes a point where the community as a whole comes into this.

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