Phoenix-area leaders address homeless crisis, plans to tackle issue

Phoenix leaders are rallying against homelessness as the crisis is coming front and center ahead of election season - and as the blistering summer heat continues.

Neighborhood leaders from across the Valley spoke in support of bills like SB 1581, which is designed to address the crisis.

MORE: Arizona lawmaker pushes for sanctioned camps as 'temporary' solution to homeless crisis

It comes as a homeless encampment near the Arizona State Capitol has become the center of the discussion.

"The zone" is an encampment of more than 1,300 homeless individuals in downtown Phoenix.

Some speakers say Arizona needs a plan to get homeless individuals off the street and into transitional housing, or the number of homeless individuals will continue to rise exponentially.

MORE: 'City of a Thousand': Downtown Phoenix's tent city explodes at alarming rate

For one mother who lives near the homeless encampment, the constant threat of violence is her biggest worry.

"One day my young daughter and I were having dinner, and we heard the all too familiar "pop pop pop" gunshots," said resident Morgan Sailer. "At this point I can only come to the conclusion that the city is planning to reach their target by removing unsheltered people from our streets in body bags."

Authorities reported in an official count that the number of homeless people in Maricopa County surged 35% in the last two years.

MORE: Advocates blame housing crisis, rent hikes for homeless encampment boom