Homelessness and Panhandling in Scottsdale
Homelessness and panhandling are complex social problems that impact our community and those affected. There are no easy and fast solutions. The City of Scottsdale works through a navigation team and community partners to connect people in need with service providers.
- Maricopa Association of Government – Homeless Programs
- Maricopa Regional Continuum of Care Committee
- Arizona Housing Coalition
How you can help
The Power of Your Dollar
Many people do not realize that donating to agencies dedicated to helping people in need such as churches, shelters and food banks may be a better way to help the homeless versus providing individual contributions. Below are links to just a few of the agencies that you may consider:
- Central Arizona Shelter Services
- Family Promise
- Human Services Campus
- Phoenix Rescue Mission
- Salvation Army
- St. Vincent De Paul
- Save the Family
- UMOM Regional Homeless Shelter
- Scottsdale Cares
Another solution is to volunteer to assist the situation. If you are interested in assisting, please email Human Services Manager Gene Munoz-Villafane.
How We Help
The City of Scottsdale works to address homelessness in a variety of ways:
- In Fiscal Year 2018/19, the City Council approved nearly $769,000 to support 18 nonprofit agencies working to address various aspects of homelessness, including support for regional shelters. This is in addition to the direct services provided by City of Scottsdale social workers and agencies located at city human services facilities (such as Vista del Camino).
- The total budget for the City of Scottsdale Human Services Department is almost $15 million ($9.3 million in grants), all of which goes toward addressing a variety of human service needs.
Ways the city helps that are not calculated in dollars:
- Provides services by social workers and agencies housed in city facilities which include Vista del Camino, Paiute Neighborhood Center and the Granite Reef Senior Center.
- Vista del Camino and the Civic Center Library are designated as a Heat Refuge and Hydration Stations in partnership with the Maricopa Association of Governments by providing access to public restrooms and a sheltered air-conditioned area during heat advisory days.
- Provides weekday access to trained job specialists at Vista del Camino's Career Center.
- Conducts assessments and referrals to area shelters and homeless services.
- Assists with transportation as funds permit by providing gas cards and bus passes for travel to government assistance offices, Social Security offices, Department of Economic Security, health care and shelters.
- Offers rental and utility deposits as funding permits if an individual or family experiencing homelessness is ready for housing transition and has the income to maintain/afford a rental unit.
- Provides partial rent and utility deposits if a household experiencing homelessness is transitioning into Section 8 housing.
- Provides emergency food bags, toiletries and clothing.
- Provides local phone use for short-term calls while accessing services or calling shelters.
- Distributes Community Resource cards, shelter information and lists of additional food resources that are available.
Veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness—and their family members, friends and supporters—can make the call to or chat online with the National Call Center for Homeless Veterans, where trained counselors are ready to talk confidentially 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
1500 E. Thomas Rd., Suite 106 Phoenix, AZ 85006
CRRCs provide Veterans who are homeless and at risk of homelessness with one-stop access to community-based, multiagency services to promote permanent housing, health and mental health care, career development and access to VA and non-VA benefits.
Each year during May through September Vista del Camino serves as a water hydration station. The station’s purpose is to protect the vulnerable, especially the homeless, during summer heat by providing sites where they can get free bottled water, sunscreen wipes, lip balm and hats. Scottsdale Healthcare partners with the city to provide the supplies, plus information on the dangers of extreme heat. The public can donate water or other items, including light-colored T-shirts, sunblock, socks and underwear, hats and pre-packaged snack items.
The Hydration Station is part of a regional "Heat Relief Network" program.
Legal information relating to homelessness and panhandling
While there are many laws that potentially impact those who are experiencing homelessness, being homeless is not a crime. Along with homelessness, panhandling by itself is also not a crime. The courts have consistently ruled that panhandling or begging for money is a protected activity under the First Amendment as long as it is done on public property where members of the public are generally entitled to be such as public sidewalks and parks. Panhandlers do not have a right to beg on private property unless granted permission by the private property owners. Private property owners have a right to trespass both panhandlers and people experiencing homelessness from their properties. Panhandlers on public property may not disturb the peace, obstruct public thoroughfares, litter or threaten passersby while engaging in panhandling.
Finally, not all panhandlers are homeless and not all people experiencing homelessness are engaged in panhandling.
It is Unlawful to be in City parks and the McDowell Sonoran Preserve After Hours. City parks are closed to all visitors from 10:30 p.m. until sunrise. The McDowell Sonoran Preserve is closed from sunset to sunrise. This means that someone who is hiking, camping or otherwise within a city park or the Preserve during the aforementioned hours is violating the law. A person may not camp on private property without a property owner’s permission and regardless of whether it involves public or private property depending on the circumstances such camping activity may violate other state laws or city ordinances (e.g. illegal burning, unlawful dumping etc.).