Here’s the best way to help the 7,419 homeless people in metro Phoenix


There were at least 7,419 people experiencing homelessness in metro Phoenix at the start of 2020 when providers conducted the annual point-in-time count in Maricopa County. 

That number likely has increased over the course of the year as COVID-19-related job loss has forced even more Arizonans into homelessness. 

More than half of the people experiencing homelessness in the county are living “unsheltered” — sleeping on the streets, in desert washes, vehicles or another place not meant for habitation.

People experiencing this type of homelessness have significant needs ranging from food and water to blankets and clothing. 

But experts say the best way to help people experiencing homelessness is not to give them these items directly, but to donate to nonprofit organizations that can make sure people are getting the items they need while also trying to provide them with services. 

“It’s counterintuitive, but it really is the way to give,” said Phoenix Councilwoman Debra Stark, who helped form a partnership with Clear Channel Outdoor Americas to promote “healthy giving” on local billboards. 





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