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‘Building housing isn't a quick process’: Phoenix weighs in on millions in COVID relief money for homelessness that hasn’t been spent

The city doesn't have enough shelter space to meet the needs of a growing unsheltered population.

Erica Stapleton, Katie Wilcox, John Tanet

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Published: 12:40 PM MST August 29, 2022
Updated: 6:17 PM MST September 1, 2022

A tarp propped up by shopping carts provides some respite from the triple-digit temperatures. It's a haven of sorts in a hell Lorraine never imagined.

“It’s scary,” Lorraine shared. “By myself out here I don’t sleep. I always have to be watching my back. During the day I get my rest. I always feel safer during the day sleeping.” 

Lorraine said she’d been experiencing homelessness for about a year. 

We met her at Perry Park, near 32nd Street and Thomas Road, where she was cleaning her space; duties she takes seriously, even though she’s living on the streets.

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“I was just cleaning here,” said Lorraine that morning. “Making sure we don’t have any garbage in here because we get ants.” 

It’s a reality for many who regularly line the fence at Perry Park. 

“We’re like family,” said Lorraine’s friend Robert J. “Brothers and sisters.” 

He and Lorraine were sharing a tarp space.  Unlike Lorraine, Robert J. told 12News he’d been experiencing homelessness on and off for years. 

“There are days that I wake up out here and I wake up just sad,” he said. “I look at myself. What am I going to do? Am I going to be out here when I’m 60 or 70 years old?” 

At the time, Robert J. told us he was 46.   

“I don’t want to be out here when I’m 50,” he added. 

Credit: 12News
Robert J. adjusts the tarp over his makeshift shelter at Perry Park.

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