PHOENIX — At least 337 homeless people have already died this year on Valley streets and the numbers look to be growing at a record-breaking pace.
“It's devastating, shocking, sadly we knew it was coming,” said Marty Hames, a spokesperson for Phoenix's Circle the City.
Hames said the number of homeless people is on the rise and the Valley's higher housing costs are the fuel.
"They have nowhere else to turn but to the streets," Hames said.
Troy Kallhoff had been homeless just more than two weeks ago, forced to live in a friend's backyard.
“Not knowing where I'm going to eat or take a shower -- not knowing is devastating,” Kallhoff said.
Kallhoff lived on a fixed income after experiencing a list of medical issues.
“I've had four back surgeries, a titanium hip on my right side, and I need one on my left side,” Kallhoff said.
The home he had been renting was sold, and he could not afford a new location.
Once on the streets, Kallhoff said he became addicted to fentanyl to help deal with pain. The addiction created a cycle that threatened to keep him homeless forever.
"If you don’t have it, the body aches. Your whole entire body is cramping and hurting and cold sweats," Kallhoff said.
If it wasn't for a horrific diagnosis, Kallhoff would likely still be out on the streets. Leg pain forced Kallhoff to go to the hospital. Doctors would diagnose him with gangrene and said he was days away from losing his leg.
The diagnosis became a blessing because it got him in touch with Circle the City, which helped him get a new home.
“Had I not had the option to go to Circle the City, I would be back at the backyard, and I would be in the heat, and there is a good chance doing what I was doing, I would be dead today,” Kallhoff said.
But it shouldn’t take a near amputation to get help. Hames said more shelters and cooling centers are needed to help save lives. However, to truly solve the problem, more resources that help homeless people get jobs or face their addictions are needed.
“You are someone who can help or someone who needs help,“ Hames added.
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