(Phoenix, Arizona) Maricopa County is planning to close down one or two, of the Valley’s most popular homeless shelters because officials there refuse to address certain fire code violations
This may include the Men’s overflow shelter an the makeshift camp site parking lot adjacent to it know as the “East lot.” Both operated by CASS “Central Arizona Shelter Services” in Phoenix, Arizona.
“The problem is partly a lack of commitment, resources and funding when you really think about it”, said one CASS employee who asked not to be named in this report.
In January 2014, the state fire marshal came in and told Maricopa County it had to close the overflow shelter if it didn’t install fire sprinklers.
“The reason for that was the safety of the people receiving services here”, my friend explained.
Fred Durham, the assistant state fire marshal, cited the building with five different code violations and told the county it had to close if it didn’t install fire sprinklers.
In the meantime, officials who operate the shelter had to institute a 24-hour fire watch just to keep the place open at night.
The overflow shelter is situated in a run down older brick building on the corner of 12th avenue and Madison that once housed records for the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. Today it functions as a nightly shelter for homeless people who basically have no where else to night.
“Many of these individuals have serious mental disabilities, criminal records, substance-abuse issues…”, he explained.
On any given night about 250 men wait in line every night for a chance to sleep at the overflow shelter. At least 300 others sleep in the East Lot. In total about 500 people count on these services.
In response Maricopa County says it doesn’t have any plan to install sprinklers. Bruce Liggett, director of Maricopa County Human Services, said ” it’s not practical to renovate the building.”
As for “the East Lot”, the county’s annual contract with Central Arizona Shelter Services comes up for review in early spring. If the county doesn’t renew it at that time, and there is no guarantee that it will, the shelter will close in June.
Already the shelter began limiting the number of men to 190. In January, it will let in 120 per night. By March, 40… so you can see there is a slow attrition going on. The problem is that these people just don’t go away – they still need services someplace.
The shelter’s last night is March 31, 2015.
Where the 500 plus people will go at that point is anyone’s guess.
See related video: The Homeless Of Phoenix Arizona https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BU44QH635fo