PHOENIX - Authorities say an official count shows the number of homeless people in Arizona’s largest county surged 35% over two years amid a housing crisis and economic hardship caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
A report released by the Maricopa Association of Governments says that 5,029 people in the county, including 3,096 people in Phoenix, experienced homelessness in unsheltered situations the night of Jan. 25.
The tally was part of the annual "Point-in-Time" count overseen by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide a one-day snapshot of how many people are living on the street.
The number of people experiencing homelessness in Maricopa County steadily rose from 2014 to 2020, but a count was not done last year because of the pandemic.
The recent upswing in homelessness mirrors a hike in Phoenix rents, which apartments.com says have leaped 32.3% since the pandemic began two years ago. The apartment listing website says median rents in Phoenix currently stand at $1,221 for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,491 for a two-bedroom unit.
Homelessness has exploded around the United States as economic hardship caused by COVID-19 cost people their jobs, health and even their homes.
Evictions are on the rise as court cases start piling up after last year’s end to a federal moratorium that protected renters affected by COVID-19.
The recent count of people living on the streets in greater Phoenix by the Maricopa Association of Governments used volunteer teams comprised of people with city, county and state agencies; community and faith-based organizations; businesses and private individuals.
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