PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — The city of Phoenix is facing a major lawsuit accused of failing to address its homeless population at an encampment known as ‘The Zone’ between 7th and 15th streets and between Van Buren and Grant Street. “Our issue is not with the homeless, our issue is with the city of Phoenix not recognizing this as a crisis,” said Debbie Faillace, who owns Old Station Sub Shop with her husband, Joe.
Old Station Sub Shop, a longtime sandwich restaurant, is now in “The Zone.” “The homelessness crisis is out of control, there’s death, there’s violence, there’s prostitution, there’s drugs,” Debbie said.
The lawsuit shows pictures of blatant drug use, crime, garbage and even human excrement. As a result, residents and business owners said a dangerous environment has been created that leads to declining property values. Faillace said they have lost business. “Some women say it’s not safe to walk in this area, some men say they don’t feel safe in this area,” Joe said.
The suit says the ‘Zone’ is a public nuisance and if a judge agrees, it would force the city to take action, including moving the camp. Advocates want to make it clear that they don’t want to criminalize the homeless, but they want the area to be safe and clean. “There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to fix it,” said City Council spokesman Marty Hames. “We need more affordable housing, we need shelter and not just in the city of Phoenix.”
We reached out to city officials who said they have not yet reviewed the lawsuit, but they pointed to $50 million last fiscal year to fight homelessness and another $70 million the city council approved for social programs. But Faillace’s said the city is in dramatic decline. They hope the lawsuit will change things. “It’s been two years and nothing has been done,” Joe said. “We need help.”
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