Home>Housing crisis>Phoenix Businesses See Hope After ‘The Zone’ Cleanup

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego speaking with attendees at an event titled "Elevate: Conservation and Water Management" at The Yard at Farmer Arts District in Tempe, Arizona, May 17, 2022. (Photo: Gage Skidmore)

Phoenix Businesses See Hope After ‘The Zone’ Cleanup

Economic impact from pandemic and ensuing homeless epidemic

By Steve Kirwan, November 10, 2023 12:15 pm

Business owners in and around “The Zone,” Downtown Phoenix’s infamous homeless encampment, breathed a collective sigh of relief after the City met a court-ordered Nov 4, 2023 deadline to clear out all tents and other remnants from around the Capital’s Human Services Campus. At one point, the “city-within-a-city” had swelled to over 1000, driving away downtown customers and forcing many of the small businesses around the area to shutter.

On Sept 24, the Arizona Globe published a story highlighting a joint amicus brief filed by Senate President Warren Petersen and House Speaker Ben Toma fighting litigation intended to hamstring the state’s homeless cleanup effort. However, a suit filed by property owners, residents, and business owners in the area circumvented the need, moving Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Scott Blaney to force the city’s cleanup effort and mandating the Nov. 4 deadline.

Arizona National Guard service members prepare meals at Saint Vincent de Paul’s rescue mission in Phoenix for local homeless on July 6, 2020. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Dillon Davis)

In a statement released on 11/6/23, Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego appeared to take credit for the changes, stating, “After months of concentrated efforts, we reached an important milestone that will help move us towards our goal of ending all homelessness in our community. We’ve dedicated historic amounts of funding and deployed innovative solutions to provide folks with shelter and wraparound services – but we can, must, and will do more.” She touted that out of the 718 people offered services, 585 accepted placement at an indoor shelter.

In an Arizona Capitol Times article posted 11/7/23, Joseph Faillace, co-owner of the Old Station Sub Shop at 1301 W. Jefferson Street, located about a block away from “The Zone,” and one of the local business owners involved in the suit that forced the City to act, stated, “I think people realized now that this is a public nuisance situation and an epidemic. These people need help. Some of them have mental illness, a lot of people are on drugs and alcohol. It just needs to be addressed. People can’t just let it go under the radar and expect it to get better because it’s not going to get better. You can’t enable people.”

Faillace, like many other business owners, is pleased by the forward motion but is concerned over the damage done. A quick walk through the area reveals extensive abuse, including residual garbage and feces throughout “The Zone” and surrounding areas. Still, Faillace remains hopeful. “I’m really happy that these people are going to get some help. I’m happy to see the City has gotten involved,” he said. “These people can’t be out here like this – living like this in the heat. They’re dying in those tents. … Nobody can live in that. I think only positive things will come out of this.”



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