In any city, an increase in the local homeless population requires long-term answers. Shelters and social services can do little more than provide temporary solutions for a large, diverse homeless population. Those with behavioral, mental, violence and substance-abuse problems bear an especially heavy cross, unable to seek refuge in homeless shelters and eventually gain their footing.

Phoenix’s ban on homeless people sleeping on the streets pushed hundreds of homeless people onto the streets seeking nighttime refuge in April. When local business owners complained of urine, feces and trash from homeless people camping on sidewalks and vacant lots, Phoenix police cracked down harder on the ban, worsening the condition of many.

According to the 2012 annual report, “Homelessness in Arizona,” over 42 percent of the homeless population in Arizona is homeless for the first time due to job loss, foreclosure or eviction. Arizona experienced a 12 percent year over year increase in the statewide homeless population in 2012. Homelessness has no bounds, affecting not just single adults and veterans but families with children, victims of domestic violence and unaccompanied homeless youth.

Phoenix Uncut takes a hard look at the complex issue of homelessness while telling the individual stories of those combating it in the Valley.

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