Mixed reaction as Phoenix prepares to clean up 'The Zone'
PHOENIX - A week from May 3, officials with the City of Phoenix will start to clean up The Zone, a homeless encampment area near the city's Downtown area.
The cleanup comes after businesses in the area filed a lawsuit, arguing the situation is getting out of hand. In March, a judge ordered the city to not continue maintaining a public nuisance on the public property in The Zone.
The judge also ordered the city to be prepared to demonstrate at a bench trial on July 10 the steps they have taken, and the "material results it has achieved toward compliance with this Order."
Read More: Arizona court rules that City of Phoenix must keep 'The Zone' free of the homeless
The Zone, a shanty town of sorts that is cobbled together with tents, shopping carts, crates and blankets, is home to hundreds of people.
"It means something, because we created this," said one homeless person, identified only as ‘Jonathan.’
During the cleanup process, crews will clear the streets and sidewalks.
"I hope that it’s going to clean up the streets a little bit, and hope that it’s going to be make the neighborhood look better," said one businessperson in the area, identified only as ‘Danny.’
City officials plan to clean up one block at a time, every few weeks. They will put the homeless in shelter beds, hotel rooms and other buildings.
While some in the area say they are hoping to go somewhere more comfortable, Human Services Campus CEO Amy Schwabenlender is a bit skeptical of the city's plans.
"It's great for that day and for that number of people, but the other 700 or 800 that are here will still be here, unsheltered," said Schwabenlender.
Jonathan, meanwhile, is also worried about the cleanup.
"Where do you think we’re going to go, if they take our house and our tents and everything away from us? Where do you think we’re going to go?" said Jonathan.
The cleanup has also sparked fears that many of the homeless will end up in nearby parks and neighborhoods, not wanting to go too far from the agencies that help them.