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Statistics on homelessness in Tucson released

Posted at 3:24 PM, Jun 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-21 01:21:43-04

The Tucson Pima Collaboration to End Homelessness (TCPH) released the results of its annual “one-night snapshot” of persons experiencing homelessness in Pima County. 

The Point-in-Time (PIT) count took place on the night of January 23, 2018. On that night, the total number was 1,380 people experiencing literal homelessness that night, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) definition. 

Of those 1,380 people,

  • 1,017 people were experiencing sheltered homelessness
  • 363 people were experiencing unsheltered homelessness

Sheltered homelessness is where the people stay in emergency shelters, safe havens, and transitional housing. Unsheltered homelessness is where the people are staying in places where humans aren't meant to inhabit.

The number is going down, and has been for the past six years, according to TPCH. 

“It’s not where you’d like it to be, it never is," TPCH's Art Gage said. "But, we are going the right way. I think we’re just going to have to keep working at it.”

The count is done in the last week of January because it is typically the time of year when shelters are most full, according to a representative from TPCH. 

KGUN9 met a woman named April experiencing homelessness right now. She typically spends her days in De Anza Park. At night, she sleeps in different alleyways. Just a few months ago, she was living in a home, and never expected to live on the streets.

"Things happen. Things happen to people, and then you wind up out here," April said. "It's nothing nice, man. No it's not."

She told KGUN9 that she had a serious back injury and spent a lot of time in the hospital. After financial disputes with her landlord, she said she was out of a place to live.

"It's hard out here, I've been sleeping in alleys, I've been sleeping in the park. It's not good, you know what I'm saying?" she said. "Then you have fights and stuff going on, on a regular basis. You've got people that are just raising hell, for no reason."

George was another person KGUN9 met who is currently experiencing homelessness. From his time on the streets, he's noticed that drug addiction often keeps people living there.

"There are those that are so far gone, on drugs, out here, that if these people didn't come and give us food, these people would starve to death," George said. "Most of them now get to be 30, 40 years old, and don't even know their own potential. They never thought about that, because all they thought about was getting high."

George doesn't plan on being there for long. He has a few business ideas he's working on, and would like to pursue them as soon as he can. But until then, he plans on spreading positivity among everyone else in the homeless community in Pima County, in the hopes they, too, will realize they can be contributing members of society.

"I'm about to start a thing called Art Therapy Social Initiative," he said. "Some of the folks out here are very good at art. Some sing, and I want to find some ways to showcase that talent."

As for April, she doesn't plan on sticking around for long, either. She's currently working with a few various organizations around town to help get her back on track. However, that's not the case for everyone in the community, she says.

"You've gotta go out here and find services that will help you get home, to help you get housing," she said. "A lot of them, they don't, they're so used to being out here."

If you would like to donate and help end homelessness, there are multiple organizations in Tucson who accept donations including the Salvation Army, Gospel Rescue Mission, Youth On Their Own, and the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona.