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Maricopa County's homeless count impacts real people in the Valley

Last year's annual count was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

ARIZONA, USA — Tuesday, cities across Maricopa County conducted the annual Point-in-Time count to get a sense of how many people are living on the streets. 

The count is important because it helps cities receive federal funding for assistance.

Last year the audit was canceled due to COVID-19. 

Life changes despite thinking you are Superman

Valley native Hugh Henley never thought he would one day end up without a roof over his head. “Never in my wildest dreams," said Henley. 

But last year, the 64-year-old suffered a massive stroke leaving him unable to work or walk. 

“You know I’m the guy that’s never spent the night in a hospital my whole life,” said Henley. “Here I am laying in the hospital. I can’t walk. I can’t stand and I’m just thinking what I am going to do? Where am I going to go? What am I going to do? How am I going to make this?” 

He found his way to Circle the City which is a federally qualified health center that benefits from the Point-in-Time count and has been receiving rehabilitation services from the medical team. 

Point-in-Time difference 

“We have seen an increase in homeless especially with COVID-19 and we’re seeing new folks become homeless,” said City of Mesa Housing and Community Development Director Michelle Albanese.  

In 2020, the count found an 18% increase in Maricopa County's unsheltered population. 

“It really helps strategize where the resources need to go,” said Albanese.  

Since 2016, the county's homeless population has nearly tripled. 

Learning to walk again with a new perspective 

“It opened up my heart big time," said Henley. "When I leave (Circle the City), I will never ever look at a homeless person the same. I’ve been through this. I know what it’s about. I know the struggles people are going through," said Henley. 

Circle the City

Circle the City offers a recuperative medical respite care model where individuals experiencing homelessness can recuperate and receive daily medical care and round-the-clock (24/7) nursing support.

"Circle the City offers four mobile medical units to deliver outreach medical services to some of the most vulnerable in our communities," according to the organization's website. 

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