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PIT – Point in Time 2020

Last year at this time I could only go off of the 2019 numbers of houseless people counted in the nations one night of counting of an invisible population. This year I was hoping to have 2021 numbers as the PIT is done on a night in January. However, the Arizona Point in Time count has been cancelled. So, please excuse the year long delay in getting you the 2020 homeless population census for Maricopa County, Arizona, it is the most up to date data.

There was a significant jump in numbers last year from the 2019 total counted. There was also a significant increase in 2019 from the previous years numbers and the expectation is that the number will increase even more for the 2022 count. Basically, the number of people living without a permanent home has been rising year over year for several years now.

As usual the gender divide is about the same as previous years. 61% Male and 49% Female. For those lucky enough to secure a shelter bed, the proportion of females is much higher. The ages of the homeless again is very similar to past counts with the majority of individuals being over the age of 25.

Unsheltered PIT Count Growth Rate
From 2017 to 2020, unsheltered homelessness in the Maricopa County region increased by 83%. In the Central sub-region
(Phoenix), the growth rate in unsheltered homelessness was
58%. In the East Valley, unsheltered homelessness increased
by 129% and in the West Valley, it went up by 219%. PIT 2020 Final Report

The west valley seems to have become the desired place to call home for those without one. Glendale, the city which I live in, was able to decrease their numbers from 194 to 170. I can attest to fact that there are much more homeless people living in the area. TSF handed out 50 Thanksgiving dinners in less than 45 minutes last year from one park location with no additional outreach. That says to me there are a significant amount of uncounted people. The majority of the west valley numbers come from Glendale and Peoria. Wickenburg is the bright spot on the west side, completely erradicating homelessness in their city, at least for one night.

East side numbers have also increased significantly as well. Tempe, Mesa and Scottsdale have the most counted and the most increase year over year. Mesa alone increased by more than 150%.

The biggest indicator of our growing problem is the fact that the sheltered population increased by only 7%. That means very few homeless people were able to move from the streets into temporary shelter. The number of Unsheltered (those living in spaces deemed uninhabitable, including cars and abandoned buildings) has risen 18% from 2019. We can not shelter the people fast enough to mitigate the increasing number of people becoming homeless. More people are becoming homeless, at a faster rate, and mostly unsheltered.

Since there won’t be a 2021 report, the increase percentages for 2022 will not be an accurate picture of how many became homeless after the arrival of Covid but I can guarantee that the number will increase. The number of evictions is increasing even under the moratorium imposed at state and national levels and is expected to rise significantly when those restrictions are rolled back.

Finding a silver lining in this black cloud of increasing homelessness is difficult. Homelessness is an ever increasing, complex and not easily solvable problem that is pushing it’s way onto city streets and rural towns across the country and is becoming everyone’s responsibility to do what they can to minimize these numbers and mitigate the problems associated with homeless populations. The only good news I can report is that the issue of Homelessness is becoming a more popular topic of news reports and conversations around the country.

Written by:
Kymberley Page

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