Just before dawn on a bitterly cold January morning, volunteers fanned out across the region to count the number of people experiencing homelessness on Valley streets. The amount of people spending that frigid night in shelters around the region was also added to the total. Numbers released in late April showed the overall number of people experiencing homelessness continued to increase in Maricopa County, although the number of people on the street did decline slightly over the previous count. More Than 9,000 Without Homes Numbers released from the federally mandated, one-day “point-in-time” count conducted in January show 9,642 people experiencing homelessness within the region, an increase of 616 people over 2022, or an overall increase of about 7 percent. 2023 PIT Count Report The unsheltered count found 4,908 people living in places not meant for human habitation, such as on the street, in desert washes, or in vehicles. The number is a decrease of 2 percent over 2022. The sheltered count, meanwhile, identified 4,734 people living in temporary housing. The sheltered count increased by 18 percent, demonstrating the investments in temporary housing made by local and tribal governments over the past year in partnership with non-profits and foundations. “These new numbers underscore the ongoing challenge we face in addressing homelessness, which continues to be of major concern to the region and a priority for MAG,” said Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) Chair Kenn Weise, mayor of Avondale. This issue matters to everyone residing in our region. Homelessness has far-reaching effects on individuals, families, neighborhoods, and communities. It is first a human concern, but it also significantly impacts society and the economy. Kenn Weise Avondale Mayor On the Rise The number of those experiencing homelessness in our region has been steadily increasing for nearly the past decade, from 2014 to 2022. These increases are consistent with national trends. “The pandemic intensified the challenges in the region, placing more people at risk of experiencing homelessness,” said Regional Maricopa Continuum of Care Board Chair Vicki Phillips, chief clinical and development officer of Community Bridges Inc. “Although additional investments are being made in temporary housing, increasing rental rates and lack of affordable housing continue to lead to overall increases in homelessness,” she said. Why a Point In Time? The annual Point in Time homelessness count is required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. It occurs in each metropolitan region of the United States during the last 10 days in January and is coordinated by each region’s Continuum of Care. MAG coordinates the Maricopa Regional count, which provides a one day-snapshot of homelessness. The count uses volunteer teams, including city, county, and state representatives; community and faith-based organizations; businesses; and private residents. The count was conducted using a mobile app developed by MAG’s regional analytics team, making the count completely paperless. This allows MAG to de-duplicate the data more effectively while still aligning with HUD’s methodology. Rallying Together on “Pathways Home” The region’s leaders have rallied together to strengthen the regional response to homelessness. The unanimous approval in 2021 of Pathways Home, the Regional Homelessness Action Plan , reflects local leaders’ dedication to reducing the number of people experiencing homelessness. Several activities and investments are underway to implement this plan and achieve progress. MAG, together with several partners, recently launched the Home is where it all starts public education campaign to change the narrative surrounding affordable rents and mortgages. The campaign highlights that everyone has a role to play in addressing homelessness and identifies a need for a broader range of housing throughout the region.