PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - A north Phoenix man said he’s concerned about the number of homeless people living in RVs near his apartment complex, leaving behind a trail of trash, including drug paraphernalia.
Mike Lopez lives at an apartment complex near Interstate 17 and Peoria Avenue. For the last six months, he said there have been between two and six RVs parked on the street. He said he has found bongs and needles.
"You got these little kids. They’re very curious. They’re going to go pick them up,” said Lopez.
Lopez said people in the community called Phoenix police to report the problem. Officers said when they find people living on public property, they try to help.
“We make every attempt to connect the person with social services through the Phoenix C.A.R.E.S. program, Community Bridges or other service providers,” Phoenix Police said in an email to Arizona’s family. However, when officers find criminal activity, they issue citations.
“There’s (sic) bad eggs and there’s (sic) good eggs,” said Tracie Abeyta. “We can’t control everybody.”
She lives in one of the RVs parked on the street, and like the rest of the homeless people there, she said she has nowhere else to go. Abeyta said homelessness is Phoenix is “an epidemic.”
Arizona Housing Coalition Communications Director Camaron Stevenson said he recognizes the issue.
“One of the largest shelters in downtown Phoenix has about 450 beds,” he explained. “We found out from last year that, at any given time, there are about 4,000 people in Phoenix who are experiencing homelessness.”
Stevenson said there are a number of services offered to a wide variety of communities, but homeless people may not always use them.
“I wouldn’t say that people are opting to stay homeless. I would say that there relying more on themselves and their networks instead of looking for services," said Stevenson. “When you’re already feeling helpless, it’s easier to post up where you’re at.”
He said the Arizona Housing Coalition is trying to help with legislation to increase funding, but in the meantime, anyone can help.
“Really, the best thing to do is try to donate or volunteer, and then contact your state and elected representative,” said Stevenson.