Local organizations suing Tucson over ‘future’ homeless sweeps

City says rumors about sweeps ahead of gem shows are simply untrue
Local organizations suing Tucson over “future” homeless sweeps
Published: Jan. 21, 2023 at 7:30 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The city of Tucson is coming under fire from organizations that serve the area’s homeless population.

One local organization claims the city is planning to sweep out the homeless population just before one of the area biggest annual events.

According to Zaira Livier, the Executive Director for the Peoples Defense Initiative, there are planned homeless sweeps in parks in the downtown area. This is just ahead of the gem shows, which bring in thousands of visitors.

“It’s a social issue and we can’t continue to sweep the washes, sweep the park,” Livier said. “Where are homeless people supposed to go if we don’t give them a nowhere to go? Again, these are people, these are community members.”

Livier claims the city is planning sweeps at Santa Rita and other parks close to where the gem shows will take place.

According to the city of Tucson, those claims are simply untrue.

They said they have a system in place to ensure people living in these situations are treated humanely and moved to places with safe shelter.

In a statement to 13 News, city attorney Mike Rankin said the following:

However, those who help the unsheltered say the problem needs to be tackled head-on. Instead of covering up the situation and moving the homeless from one area to another.

“The issue isn’t being taken care of. The actual issue? What is it, it’s housing,” Livier said. “It’s getting people into safe and secure housing, immediately.”

The group said there are close to 3,000 homeless people in Pima County and with only about 850 beds at shelters. They are calling on the city to open up more safe spaces.

Livier said she believes city officials are doing more now than ever, but thinks more still needs to be done.

“Again, there is too little, they are too late, and they are too slow,” Livier said. “There is always an excuse. There is never the right moment to help the poor. It’s never the right moment to put our feet down and say we are taking money out from these funds and putting it here.”