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Judge orders Phoenix to clean up large homeless encampment

March 29, 2023 GMT

PHOENIX (AP) — A judge has ordered Phoenix to clean up a homeless encampment that spans nearly 10 blocks in the city’s downtown area.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Scott Blaney ruled Monday that Phoenix is maintaining a “public nuisance” and city officials must show evidence at a July 10 hearing that they’re cleaning the area.

Blaney sided with downtown Phoenix business owners who sued the city over the homeless camp known as “The Zone,” where about 700 people have lived in recent months.

The business owners cite an increase in crime, drug usage in public, biohazards and break-ins.

According to the lawsuit, the city should have no tents within public property and biohazards that include drugs, trash and human waste should be picked up.

Attorneys for the business owners said Phoenix has allowed homeless people to set up permanent tent encampments on public sidewalks and decreased enforcement of loitering, drunken and disorderly conduct and drug use among other things.

Kristin Couturier, a city spokesperson, said officials were reviewing the court ruling.

“We remain committed to address the needs of all residents and property owners,” Couturier said in a statement Monday. “We continue to work with local and regional partners to address the complex issues surrounding those experiencing homelessness and to connect people in need with safe, indoor spaces and resources to help end their homelessness.”