Much of Peoria has thrived over the last five years, with scores of high-end homes being built and glamorous commercial projects like P83.
Yet some in Peoria have not shared in the advances, as the city’s homeless population has more than doubled in the last four years.
Every January volunteers around Maricopa County hit the streets to count the “unsheltered” population. While some definitions of “homeless” include those living in shelters, hotels/motels and/or staying with friends or families, the county’s Point-In-Time (PIT) Homeless Count strives to be a true representation of the number of people on the streets.
Early in the morning of Jan. 21, volunteers went out to do their counts for 2019.
The Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) recently released Peoria’s numbers.
According to the data, volunteers counted 78 unsheltered people in Peoria. The 2019 figure is double the 38 unsheltered people counted in 2018. In 2017, 22 unsheltered people were counted - slightly less than the 31 counted in 2016.
Peoria’s 78 unsheltered people is the second-highest in the West Valley, behind the 194 unsheltered people counted in Glendale. Avondale was next with 35 unsheltered people, followed by Surprise with 33, Buckey with 24, Goodyear with 22 and Youngtown with 18 unsheltered people counted.
Peoria’s increase follows a regional trend, according to the report provided by the county.
“From 2106 to 2019, unsheltered homelessness in the Maricopa County region increased by 94%,” the report stated. “In the Central subregion (Phoenix), the growth rate in unsheltered homelessness was 64%. In the East Valley, unsheltered homelessness increased by 167% and in the West Valley, it went up by 213%.”
Volunteers counted 2,030 unsheltered people in Phoenix, 373 in Tempe and 206 in Mesa.
According to MAG, “The count includes a brief survey to identify the needs of those experiencing homelessness in the community. MAG coordinates the PIT Count each year for the Maricopa Regional Continuum of Care. MAG serves as the hub of collaboration between the Continuum of Care and local communities.
“The 2020 PIT Count will be conducted on Jan. 28.”