SOURCE: City of Phoenix
On Wednesday, the Phoenix City Council approved the rezoning of the property at 1537 W. Jackson St. to allow for the creation of the Safe Outdoor Space to support the City’s efforts to address the area around the Human Services Campus (HSC). This rezoning is the last item needed to finalize the project, after the Council first approved the purchase of the property in June 2023.
The Safe Outdoor Space will be one option available to individuals currently staying in the area around the HSC. The City is addressing the area strategically, one block at a time to ensure we can offer every individual we engage with shelter. The Safe Outdoor Space is not intended to be the sole solution for the entire population currently staying in the HSC area. It is designed to be an alternative to help those who are not yet ready to accept a place in an indoor shelter space offered during the City’s enhanced engagements.
The Safe Outdoor Space will allow people experiencing homelessness to camp in a safer, shaded area with access to basic necessities while offering services to assist them in ending their homelessness. The City is committed to providing a variety of solutions for people experiencing homelessness. The Safe Outdoor Space will serve as an alternative place to engage with unsheltered individuals to help them prepare to move to an indoor location.
The Safe Outdoor Space will have restrooms, showers, meal service, property storage, 24/7 security and a code of conduct for residents. Drugs, alcohol and fires will not be allowed. The Safe Outdoor space will prioritize serving unsheltered individuals in the area around the HSC and will be a closed campus, not offering walk-up services. Camping will not be allowed along the perimeter of the property.
The City Council approval allows for a Special Permit to operate the Safe Outdoor Space for three years. It also includes several stipulations to help address concerns of residents and business owners in the surrounding community. Some of the stipulations include creating an advisory committee, holding quarterly meetings with the community, allowing a maximum of 200 safe outdoor spaces at the site and adding turf, additional fencing and lighting to the property.
The property offers a unique opportunity in that it also has indoor space which will be used for meal service, case management and weather relief for individuals who are staying in the Safe Outdoor Space. The City is proposing to open the location in phases beginning in Fall 2023 and will continue to evaluate the need as we work to reduce unsheltered homelessness in the area around the HSC.
The creation of a Safe Outdoor Space was recommended in the Strategies to Address Homelessness Task Force Recommendations the City Manager and presented to the Phoenix City Council in April 2022. In June 2023, the Phoenix City Council authorized the City to enter into an agreement with the State of Arizona to license and ultimately purchase the property. The license agreement began in August 2023. Phoenix Planning Commission heard this case in September 2023 and recommended approval with the stipulations. The City will finalize the purchase of the property in October 2023. The City utilized $5.4 million of grant funding from the Arizona Department of Housing for the acquisition of the property and relocation of the site’s previous operation.