In 2010, the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) reported the number of families living on the street increased by 27%. Further, surveys indicate that 40% of those attending Valley of the Sun’s United Way (VSUW) Project Connect events throughout the Valley were homeless for the first time. Reasons topping the list for homelessness among families include unemployment, lack of affordable housing, poverty, low-paying jobs and domestic violence. Due to the economic situation, many of these families are unable to access emergency shelter when they most desperately need it.
Approximately 4,004 families (comprised of 4,807 adults and 5,809 children) experienced homelessness during FY 2012. In Maricopa County and the balance of the state, 78% of children in homeless families were under 12 years old while 38 percent of those homeless children were under five years old. Most homeless families have a female head of household and the average family size is 2.6 family members.
The State Coordinator for Homeless Education at the Arizona Department of Education reports that in 2011 there were over 31,000 homeless children/youths enrolled in public schools.
In 2012, Arizona law enforcement agencies filed 5,597 arrest reports for runaways ages 8 through 17 and curfew violations1. Arrest data is under-reported due to partial and non-reporting in some counties.
In 2012 the National Runaway Switchboard received 1,677 calls from runaways in the state of Arizona. Preliminary data from the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) Homeless Education Office shows 31,682 children (pre-kindergarten through 12th grade) were reported throughout the state as homeless during FY 2012, which represents a 4.4% increase over 2011.
Seventy- three percent of the children were reported as “doubled-up" (living temporarily with another family), 22% were living in shelters, 2% were living in unsheltered situations (cars, parks, campgrounds and abandoned buildings), and 3% were temporarily residing in hotels or motels due to lack of alternative adequate accommodations. Approximately 75% of the students experiencing homelessness attended schools in urban areas while 25% attended school in the rural counties that make up the Balance of State.2