TUCSON, Ariz. — The City of Tucson is using money from the budget to help fund homeless programs that target mental illnesses.
Tucson Mayor Regina Romero says she is making homelessness a top priority during her first term.
Romero says she's heard from both the Tucson Police Department and neighborhoods that the high homeless rates are due to mental illnesses.
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, more than 500,000 people are homeless on any given night and 45% of that number is mentally ill.
At a recent Tucson Homeless Coalition meeting, Mayor Romero said TPD brought up the need to help fund more mental health programs within the department.
Her plan is to budget six to eight clinical psychologist within the Civilian Work Force at TPD.
"It was very clear that homelessness is a huge issue for myself and my colleagues, so we want to find fast, easy fixes so that we take care as much as we possible can of the homeless situation in the city of Tucson," says Romero.
Tucson's Mayor says she hopes this will not only decrease the number of homeless we already have, but also stop people from getting to that point.
"A lot of people are living a pay check or two away from homelessness, so we've got to work in many different directions to prevent homelessness and those that are homeless already," Romero said.
Romera says she plans to continue working with nonprofits, like Old Pueblo Community Services and Gospel Rescue, to add more resources and continue lowering the number of people living on the streets of Tucson.