Number of homeless people in Maricopa County rises

PHOENIX (FOX 10) -- Officials with the Maricopa Association of Governments said Tuesday the number of people experiencing homelessness in Maricopa County has risen, according to numbers from a "point-in-time" (PIT) count.

According to the count, which was done on the night of January 21, 2019, 6,614 people experienced homelessness within the region, which is an increase of 316 people over 2018. Of those people, about 52%, or 3.426 people, were staying at an emergency shelter, transitional housing, or safe haven programs. Meanwhile, 3,188 people, or 48% of the total number of homeless, were "unsheltered', defined as sleeping on the streets or another place that was not meant for human habitation.

According to the numbers, the number of homeless people who are unsheltered has been on the rise ever since 2014. A PIT count that year shows that of the 5,918 people who were homeless, 1,053 people were unsheltered.

"This should be of concern to everyone living in the Valley," said Amy Schwabenlender, co-chair of the Maricopa Regional Continuum of Care board and executive director of the Human Services Campus, in a statement released Tuesday. "The ripple effects of homelessness touch individuals, families, neighborhoods, and communities. These are first and foremost human impacts, and at the same time they profoundly weave into societal and economic impacts."