Phoenix mayoral candidates talk about homelessness solutions, as runoff election nears

PHOENIX (FOX 10) -- With a little over a month to go before the Phoenix mayoral runoff election, candidates Kate Gallego and Daniel Valenzuela met with voters Tuesday night at a candidate forum.

Among the issues discussed was how each candidate plans to tackle the growing homeless population in Phoenix.

It was a packed house at the forum, with many people making final decisions on these two candidates. Alongside homelessness, the two other main topics are housing and health. Candidates were asked how they plan on combating the issue of homelessness, as Phoenix ranks fifth in cities with the most homelessness.

"I think we need a real plan. I think we need a real plan here in the region. We have some amazing leaders who are in this room, leading several nonprofits and foundations, and government isn't going to fix the problem, but we can be a partner. The local government can be a partner," said Valenzuela. "I think if everyone can get on the same page, then we can actually tackle these issues. Is housing part of it? Absolutely. It's a tactic."

"Housing is a solution to homelessness. It's absolutely an important part," said Gallego. "In my conversations, the one factor that seemed to be universal is a good, stable housing situation needs to be part of that plan. For many others, there's other programs that need to be a part of it. Mental health is the thing I hear the second most often. Many of you have also educated me about the importance in bring in the faith-based community as addressing this homelessness at addressing this. I am a huge proponent for a regional support. Homelessness does not stop at Phoenix's borders."

Many people who attended the forum say they want to hear long-term solutions to homelessness.

"It's important that politicians to think long term," said one woman. "I think we need to stop thinking about an electoral season, we need solutions for the next year or two. I think it's important what are we going to accomplish for the next five, 10, 20 years. that we think. That is very important. Also, part of homelessness, as [Kate Gallego] says, has to do with health care."

Mayoral election is March 12.