Residents, business owners sue City of Phoenix over ‘The Zone’ homeless encampment
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — The City of Phoenix is facing a big lawsuit accused of failing to address its homeless population in an encampment known as ‘The Zone’ between 7th and 15th avenues and between Van Buren and Grant Street. “Our issue is not with the homeless, our issue is with the City of Phoenix to fail to recognize this as a crisis,” said Debbie Faillace, who owns Old Station Sub Shop along with her husband, Joe.
Old Station Sub Shop, a long-time sandwich restaurant, is now in ‘The Zone.’ “The homeless crisis is out of control, the death, the violence, there is prostitution, there’s drugs,” said Debbie.
The lawsuit shows pictures of open drug use, crime, trash and even human defecation. As a result, residents and business owners said it’s created a dangerous environment leading to dropping property values. The Faillace’s said they’ve lost business. “Some women say it isn’t safe to walk in this area, some men say they don’t feel safe in this area,” said Joe.
The lawsuit is making the case that ‘The Zone’ is a public nuisance, and if a judge agrees, it forces the city to take action, including moving the camp. Lawyers want to make clear they don’t want to criminalize homelessness, but they want that area to be safe and clean. “There is no one-solution fix-it,” said Circle the City spokesperson Marty Hames. “We need more affordable housing, we need shelters and not just in the City of Phoenix.”
We reached out to city officials who said they haven’t reviewed the lawsuit yet, but they pointed to $50 million last fiscal year to fight homelessness and another $70 million city council approved for social programs. But the Faillace’s said the city is falling dramatically short. They hope the lawsuit changes things. “Its been two years and nothing has been done,” said Joe. “We need help.”
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