PHOENIX – At least 337 homeless people have already died this year on the streets of the Valley and the numbers seem to be growing at a record pace.
“It’s devastating, shocking, unfortunately we knew it was coming,” said Phoenix’s spokesman Marty Hames. Circle the City.
Hames said homelessness is on the rise and the valley’s higher housing costs are fueling it.
“They don’t have anywhere else to turn other than the street,” Hames said.
Troy Kallhoff had been homeless just over two weeks ago, forced to live in a friend’s yard.
“Not knowing where I’m going to eat or shower, not knowing is devastating,” Kallhoff said.
Kallhoff lived on a fixed income after experiencing a list of medical problems.
“I’ve had four back surgeries, a titanium hip on my right side and I need one on my left side,” Kallhoff said.
The house he had been renting was sold and he couldn’t afford a new location.
Once on the streets, Kallhoff said he became addicted to fentanyl to help cope with the pain. Addiction created a cycle that threatened to keep him homeless forever.
“If you don’t have it, your body hurts. Your whole body has cramps and aches and cold sweats,” Kallhoff said.
If not for a horrible diagnosis, Kallhoff would probably still be on the streets. Leg pain forced Kallhoff to go to the hospital. Doctors diagnosed him with gangrene and said he was days away from losing his leg.
The diagnosis turned out to be a blessing because it put him in touch with Circle the City, which helped him get a new home.
“If I hadn’t had the option to go to Circle the City, I’d be back in my backyard and I’d be in the heat, and there’s a good chance I’d have done what I was doing, I’d 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 are needed to help homeless people find work or deal with their addictions.
“You’re either someone who can help or someone who needs help,” Hames added.