City of Phoenix files motion to dismiss homelessness lawsuit

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) – The City of Phoenix filed a motion in the last week to dismiss a lawsuit filed by business owners and neighbors who live near ‘The Zone,’ a massive homeless encampment near downtown Phoenix.

The lawsuit, filed last month, claims that ‘The Zone’ is a public nuisance, impacting business and property values. In the 21-page motion to dismiss, lawyers for the city gave multiple reasons why business owners and residents won’t be able to declare it a public nuisance. One is that the city says they don’t have a constitutional duty to protect the property of those filing the lawsuit.

“Our issue is not with the homeless,” said Debbie Faillace, Old Station Sub Shop co-owner. “Our issue is with the City of Phoenix to fail to recognize this as a crisis.”

Debbie and her husband Joe were some of the people who originally filed the lawsuit because they say the homelessness issue has threatened their safety. “The homeless crisis is out of control,” Faillace said. “The deaths, the violence. There’s prostitution, there’s drugs.”

At a Phoenix City Council meeting earlier this week, representatives for the Phoenix Human Services Department told lawmakers that over $100 million have been spent addressing the homelessness issue since July last year. “We’re going to keep doing more,” said Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego. “But I think it is important to recognize that this is an unprecedented level of commitment for the City of Phoenix.”

The latest initiative is a nearly $1 million contract with the nonprofit Lutheran Social Services. The partnership will provide shelter for 10 to 12 people each night at different churches. “They’ll meet at a centralized location, get on a Lutheran Social Services bus or van and be transported to the location and then be transported back in the morning,” Rachel Milner of the Phoenix Human Services Department said.

The city says they expect the church shelter program to start next year. The services are available to anyone 18 and older, regardless of religious affiliation.

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