/ Modified oct 31, 2014 11:03 a.m.

Homelessness Down in Arizona

Tucson's focus to get veterans off the streets contributes to decline in numbers.

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Soup-Patrol_Sitting_Man_294x180 Homeless man sitting in Pancho Villa park.
Andrew Brown, AZPM

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said homelessness in Arizona has declined by about 24 percent in the past four years.

The numbers came from a report the department released based on an annual count of homeless people in U.S. cities.

In 2013, volunteers in Arizona counted 10,562 homeless people, and in January 2014 there were 10,495.

Tucson has been focused on permanent housing, a model called "housing first," said Ophelia B. Basgal, the HUD regional administrator for Arizona.

“If you move towards putting people into permanent housing, that often solves the problem,” she said.

Another model is rapid rehousing.

“Let’s say you’re about to be evicted because you can’t pay your utility bill, or something else is likely to make you homeless. It’s more effective to put dollars there to keep people in housing, so that they don’t become homeless and get into a cycle," Basgal said.

In Tucson, the homeless numbers have gone down in the last few years, according to HUD data:
2010: 3,643
2011: 2,626
2012: 2,366
2013: 2,238
2014: 2,179

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