County increases efforts to assist homeless population

More beds, safer outdoor space

Independent Newsmedia
Posted 4/29/20

Maricopa County is taking additional action to support those experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic, moving people off the streets and into newly-leased indoor locations; setting up …

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County increases efforts to assist homeless population

More beds, safer outdoor space

Posted

Maricopa County is taking additional action to support those experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic, moving people off the streets and into newly-leased indoor locations; setting up safer outdoor space; and arranging medical care and triage, among other efforts.

The Maricopa County Human Services Department works with federal, state, municipal, and non-profit partners, along with the Maricopa County Association of Governments, to implement regional solutions to homelessness, partnerships that are even more critical during this pandemic.

“We are fortunate to have strong partners who share our commitment to assisting the most vulnerable among us during this unprecedented time,” said Bruce Liggett, director of Maricopa County Human Services Department.

“None of us is solely responsible, and none of us can do this alone. What’s important is that we each do what we can.”

The Maricopa County Human Services Department’s primary goal in this pandemic has been to reduce the risk among the most vulnerable. Over the past week, the county has:

  • Transferred a dozen homeless individuals into leased facilities in the east Valley
  • Tested others from at-risk categories so they can also move
  • Secured a total of 200 beds county-wide for at-risk homeless individuals
  • For those who volunteer, relocated individuals from tent encampments near the Human Services Campus into a safe outdoor space on vacant county lots with cold water, hand washing stations, toilets, and security. This aligns with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that encampments should not be broken up.

The Human Services Department’s secondary goal is to provide appropriate medical care for individuals with symptoms under investigation, people who are COVID-19 positive who do not require hospitalization and for hospital discharges returning to shelter or housing.

Over the past week, the county has:

  • Established a medical triage phone line;
  • Established alternate care sites including a portion of a downtown Phoenix hotel; and
  • Continued its work with established partners such as Circle the City to get homeless individuals the care they need.

“Circle the City’s holistic approach to providing medical services to those experiencing homelessness fits well with our goal to reduce risk among the County’s most vulnerable,” said Mr. Liggett. “Circle the City has provided medical respite in Maricopa County for decades. It is no surprise to see them stepping up their efforts in these unprecedented times.”

Circle the City is the only health care provider in Maricopa County working solely with the homeless population. To date, they have tested 89 individuals for COVID-19; one has tested positive, according to a press release.

They are also caring for three other positive cases who were released from local hospitals.

Staff continue to use this opportunity to further engage homeless individuals, better understand their needs and attempt to connect people to permanent housing.

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