City of Tempe criticized for pushing out homeless living in the Salt River bed due to unsafe conditions

Homeless living at the riverbed by Tempe Town Lake are being forced to leave as the city calls the conditions in that area unhealthy and unsafe. 

The city is going to start citing for trespassing on Sept. 1.

There's been some criticism about the plan, but city officials say the conditions in the area are just not safe for humans to live in, for several reasons.

According to city officials, conditions in the area at the Salt River bed near Tempe Town Lake are prone to flooding. It's also difficult for first responders to access during medical calls.

There also isn't available drinking water or a bathroom.

Some who live at Salt River bed are not happy about this move, saying they don't trust the city. The city says the Human Services Department, along with community partners, have been doing outreach at the riverbed since July.

Since July, the city says 75 people have engaged with outreach teams for shelter and other services.

"The specific help toward substance abuse response as well as connecting to shelter and housing, so that's a significant strategy," says Paul Bentley, Tempe's Deputy Human Services Director.

"Whatever they are trying to do to get us evicted, whatever they can," one of the people at the riverbed said.

The city is also offering a storage option for personal belongings if they choose to use them.

Those with Fund for Empowerment, a nonprofit seeking to help those who are marginalized, said in part, " We, as a team, went out to see the outreach and found not a single person. We called and found out that outreach workers walked around the perimeter in the morning. If they have not gone into the River Bottom, they have not done their due diligence to provide benefits to the campers."

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