PHOENIX (May 10, 2018)—The 2018 annual homeless Point-in-Time Count tells a troubling story of an increase in the overall number of people experiencing homelessness in the Maricopa County region. Of particular concern is the continuing increase in the number of people living on the streets or in unsheltered situations.

According to the report submitted to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development by the Maricopa Regional Continuum of Care, there were 6,298 people experiencing homelessness on the night of January 22, 2018. This includes those living in emergency shelters or on the streets. This is a 12 percent increase from the region’s 2017 number of 5,605.

While the overall numbers went up, the report also showed that the number of homeless individuals, youth, and families who were not in shelter continues to increase. This year, the number of people living in unsheltered situations was 2,618. This is a 27 percent increase from the 2017 number of 2,059, and a whopping 149 percent increase from the unsheltered number recorded in 2014.

There are many complex reasons for homelessness, and one reason for the increase may be an insufficient supply of affordable housing available in the region.

“For the first time, we asked the question, what single thing would be most helpful to you right now, and the overwhelming response from the people we interviewed—nearly half—said it would be housing,” said MAG Chair Jackie Meck, mayor of Buckeye.

Another potential reason for the dramatic change is a difference in methodology this year, with more than 700 volunteers participating, including city and town staff, police, outreach workers, service providers, and general volunteers. In addition, surveyors in Phoenix, Mesa, Gilbert and Chandler used a mobile app to conduct the count, which increased efficiency and may have allowed them to interview more people.

“Even with these differences, we do believe that the number of people experiencing homelessness continues to rise at an alarming pace,” said Chandler Councilmember Kevin Hartke, co-chair of the Maricopa Regional Continuum of Care Board at MAG. “State, county, local governments, nonprofits, service providers and faith-based leaders need to redouble their efforts to find ways to increase affordable housing options and jobs and help people get back on their feet.”

The annual Point-in-Time Count, coordinated by the Maricopa Association of Governments with local street count coordinators from 24 municipalities in the region, is part of a national effort to identify the number of individuals and families experiencing homelessness. The purpose of the count is to provide a one-night snapshot of the number of people who are experiencing homelessness in the region.

“Maricopa County continues to be the fastest-growing county in the nation,” noted Amy Schwabenlender, Valley of the Sun United Way and co-chair of the Continuum of Care Board. “With the population growth, housing shortage, and stagnation of federal and state resources, homelessness will remain a challenging issue for the region,” she says.

For additional information on the Point-in-Time Homeless Street Count, please contact Maggie Wong, MAG Continuum of Care staff.

The tables below demonstrate the numbers over the last five years.

Point in Time Counts 2014-2018

Total Unsheltered Persons

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