Don’t Confuse Meth Addiction with Homelessness 

Don’t Confuse Meth Addiction with Homelessness 

By John Huppenthal |

I recently observed a tent camouflaged behind freeway road bushes in Chandler. Curious, I looked around the corner. I caught a man heating the bowl of a meth pipe in the act taking a deep drag. There were two men there. The second man looked in terrible shape, like a character out of Breaking Bad. It was 2:30 in the afternoon. I called 911.

Catching him in the criminal act was pivotal. Court decisions have given meth addicts a constitutional right to occupy our right of ways, defecate on our streets, and urinate on our sidewalks.

But these court decisions don’t protect criminal behavior.

I volunteered for two years at the school for the homeless. I never found one of the students to be homeless. They were sleeping on couches, in a spare bedroom, on someone’s carpet. Their families found someone, a relative, a friend, willing to be helpful. In my opinion, most people on the street don’t want to be in someone’s house. They are giving in to their drug addiction. Each one of them, willing to abide by the rules, can immediately enter a shelter. Rules are the key: shelters don’t allow drugs. Most of these people we describe as homeless are really meth addicts and should be described as such, not as homeless.

Meth addiction is a horror beyond all description. Read the case studies. One woman, after three days of smoking meth, cut off her boyfriend’s head and took it to his mother in a bucket.

Meth culture is now everywhere. Several months ago, a friend and I drove to hike Peralta Canyon. Leaving the paved roads, we noticed a man running, flapping his arms. Then, further on, we encountered 50-foot-long skid marks on a dirt road leading to a snapped barbed wire fence. Beyond the fence, in the distance, we could see a truck with an attached travel trailer.

Over the next hour, we put together the story. The man flapping his arms had been smoking meth for several days when he suffered a full-blown psychotic break. Somehow, convinced the cartel had arrived to assassinate him, he threw his cards and driver’s license down into the dirt so that the cartel could not use the magnetic strips to track him. He took off in his truck at an incredible rate of speed along with the attached trailer and another trailer behind it with his motorcycle. Driving in tight circles so that he could dodge the cartel’s bullets, his vehicles were bouncing a half foot into the air as he crossed the berms of the dirt road. His rate of speed was such that he was hitting five-inch palo verde trees, snapping them off without slowing. Losing control, he ran full blast into the barbed wire fence, snapping all three strands. He continued out into the desert hitting so many cholla that the cactus limbs piled up on the hood of his truck more than half-way to the top of the windshield. Finally, the sand of a desert wash trapped him but not before he had destroyed the economic value of all the assets he could claim in this world. As the fire fighters checked him out and the police took him away, he proclaimed to the world “I’m having a bad day.”

That’s the abyss addicts slide toward as they take communities with them.

Meth culture spreads. I encountered a gentleman taking pictures of the water retention basin a little further north. His mother, whose home and fence backs up to the water retention basin, had become fearful upon hearing noises that they were setting up camp in that retention basin. I told him to have her call police. The retention basin is completely fenced but there is plentiful evidence of addicts in discarded clothing and bedding.

All totaled, there were seven of these meth camps along Price Road, both on the Chandler side and the Tempe side.

I interviewed one of their residents. Waking him up at 10 in the morning, I offered him $30 for a 15-minute interview. He couldn’t find his glasses. Mentally fatigued from a stroke (a side-effect of meth addiction), he couldn’t last beyond a few questions. However, he did mention that both his father and his sister had died from drug addiction. His mother lives in Mesa. His age appeared to be late 40s. He couldn’t remember when he was born. This man was living in a makeshift tent in the 2 feet between the freeway sound wall and the bushes on the side of Price Road. 

One of the camps was behind an SRP power transformer at the edge of Price Road. I got a garbage bag and just started cleaning it up. I took out 40 pounds of garbage. I didn’t have it in my heart to take out their foam mattress bed, their new running shoes, or their clothes. 

I also posted my observations on a neighborhood social media platform. It attracted considerable attention and alarm as people realized how close they were to children.

All seven of these meth camps are now gone.

Unfortunately, according to an article in the Arizona Republic and their sources, there are over 3,500 of these encampments in Phoenix, destroying neighborhoods.

Be disciplined in your thinking. These are meth addicts. You can be sympathetic, empathetic and because of your sympathy and empathy, demand that they not be allowed to slide into a meth culture. They must get off the street. At least they must get off our streets. They are learning to beg and where to steal. They are engaging more people in meth culture. Somewhere, they have a friend, a father, a sister, a relative who will help them get clean. Keep them moving toward a better future.

Funds Announced For Affordable Housing In Attempt To Address Homelessness

Funds Announced For Affordable Housing In Attempt To Address Homelessness

By Terri Jo Neff |

Nearly $41 million has been pledged by Gov. Doug Ducey to provide transitional housing in an effort to reduce homelessness across Arizona, including within Native American communities and for residents with special needs.

“These funds will help families and individuals who are struggling access transitional housing options and equip them with the skills and support needed to secure permanent, reliable housing,” Ducey said Thursday in announcing the funds. “There are a wide range of organizations and programs across the state that help Arizonans succeed — and I’m grateful for all they do to support those in need.”

The Arizona Housing Coalition will be responsible for allocating $10 million of the State Fiscal Recovery Fund funds to organizations which serve those impacted by homelessness. Another $7.2 million will go to Native American Connections for the acquisition of a 58-bed transitional housing facility in the West Valley for youth experiencing homelessness.

The Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence (ACESDV) will distribute $7.5 million to domestic violence service providers for safe housing options for survivors in need of support. ACESDV will also distribute $4 million to domestic violence providers specifically serving Native American Tribes.

Meanwhile, $5 million has been given to Chicanos Por La Causa to hire personnel who will assist with rental applications and housing relocation, as well as provide referrals to other community resources, while $2.5 million is being provided to Home Matters to Arizona to further the group’s efforts to expand affordable housing options and to support providers that focus on transitional, homeless and domestic abuse shelters.

Habitat for Humanity Tucson has been allocated nearly $1.9 million to create a community-based job training program and to build and repair affordable housing.

Other funding announced by the Governor includes:

  • $500,000 to one-n-ten to provide safe and reliable housing to LGBTQ+ youth in need of shelter.
  • $434,276 for Tanner Community Development Corporation to provide more housing options for veterans facing homelessness.
  • $362,047 for Circle the City to strengthen mental health services for those experiencing homelessness by creating a street outreach team.
  • $300,000 for Native Americans for Community Action to expand its services that individuals experiencing homelessness utilize.
  • $250,000 for Primavera Foundation to renovate and expand affordable housing units.
  • $250,000 for First Place Arizona to offer independent living outreach, health programming, community engagement and mental health coordination to neurodiverse Arizonans.
  • $250,000 for Southern Arizona Aids Foundation to support counseling and housing programs and those living with HIV/AIDS and LGBTQ+ youth facing housing insecurity.
  • $250,000 for Tohdenasshai Committee Against Family Abuse to hire personnel to assist with childcare at the shelter in Navajo Nation and to assist with transportation to housing appointments and other services for victims.
  • $55,000 for Free Arts to provide children in shelters and facilities with art supplies.
  • $50,000 for Streets of Joy to provide shelter and counseling services to underserved individuals with mental illnesses and inmates recently reentering society, helping them transition to an independent lifestyle.

The governor’s announcement comes on the heels of two other housing related funding opportunities also announced this month. On Nov. 1, Ducey and Arizona Department of Housing (ADOH) Director Tom Simplot announced $197 million to launch the Homeowner Assistance Fund, helping Arizona homeowners struggling financially to pay their mortgage and other home-related expenses.

Then on Nov. 2, the distribution of $15.35 million in federal funding to support programs aimed at combating homelessness throughout Arizona was announced, with emphasis on immediate, transitional options

 “Transitional housing is a great steppingstone to helping more Arizonans access permanent housing solutions, and it’s important that our fellow Arizonans have access to those resources. My thanks goes to Governor Ducey for all his work to support the Arizona Department of Housing’s efforts to connect vulnerable Arizonans with safe housing.”

Thursday’s $40.7 million funding announcement is part of $90 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds available to Arizona to address affordable housing, homelessness, and other family issues such as childcare shortages and increased domestic violence made worse by the pandemic.