Prism Network is joining with our many Community Partners in opposition to the ordinance proposed by the Prescott City Council that would amend Title 5, Chapter 5-9 of the Prescott City Code to make a camping ban more enforceable.
In 2018, the 9th Circuit Court issued a ruling in Martin v Boise, which held that it is unconstitutional to enforce city ordinances that prohibit sleeping or camping on public property against homeless individuals who have no other place to sleep, when no alternative shelter is available. The court equated this to cruel and unusual punishment under the 8th Ammendment. And yet this is exactly what the City Council of Prescott proposes to do.
Allison Lenocker, Executive Director of the Center for Courage and Justice (CCJ) operates one of the Counties crucial shelters for those experiencing homelessness. She writes this in her rebuttal to the proposed ordinance:
Read the full rebuttal here.
"Homelessness is a complex issue, and banning camping in the city is not a solution. Instead it will marginalize the homeless population, deny them basic human rights and exacerbate their struggles."
Per the 2022 Point in Time Count, nearly 30% of individuals experiencing homelessness in Arizona were first-time homeless. Of those, 41% in Yavapai County were reported as first time homeless. These numbers make it clear that homelessness can happen to anyone. It is not a lifestyle or a choice.
Read the entire 2022 Arizona Point in Time Count Here.
Homelessness can happen to anyone. It is not a lifestyle or a choice.
The proposed ordinance contains quotes and statements that imply inaccurate assumptions and use negative conations towards individuals experiencing homelessness including the implication that homelessness equates to a higher rate of Covid and other medical issues. But these statements are misleading.
The ordinance notes that Yavapai County has had 59,137 confirmed cases. While the actual data and counts are not in yet, the expected unsheltered count in January 2023 was only 113 individuals. See the COVID-19 Data Dashboard results here.
Even if every single one of those 113 tested positive for COVID19 it would only be 0.00191% of the total positive COVID-19 Count. Not the significant increase as the Council would suggest.
The severe shortage of affordable housing options in Prescott is a significant challenge for individuals and families in Prescott who are struggling to find safe, stable and attainable housing options. It should also be noted that there are no family shelters currently located in Prescott or Yavapai County and very few transitional housing units for families. This has resulted in long wait lists.
Prescott Unified School District had 238 students experiencing homelessness during the 2019-2020 academic year according to the National Center for Homeless Education. A significant number of these students are living in vehicles or tents along with their parent(s) due to the unavailability of affordable housing.
Instead of criminalizing homelessness, we should all be working together to create a more compassionate and inclusive solution that that values all of it's citizens and seeks to promote dignity and kindness.
The following are examples of what Homeless Advocates and supporting community organizations recommend.
1. Camping is allowed in designated areas of certain parks and preserves, provided that the individual obtains a permit and complies with the rules and regulations established by the city.
2. Camping on certain public property, including certain parks and open spaces, between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., provided that the individual is not obstructing sidewalks or causing other obstructions.
3. Camping is permitted on certain public property ,including certain parks and open spaces, provided that the individual is not obstructing sidewalks or causing other obstructions.
4. Camping is permitted in certain public areas, such as designated camping zones in certain parks and open spaces, subject to specific rules and regulations. For example, individuals cannot camp in certain high-traffic areas.
5. Camping is permitted on certain public property, including certain parks and open spaces, between 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., provided that the individual is not engaging in criminal activity, blocking sidewalks, or causing other obstructions.
Arizona Department of Housing. (2021). 2021 Arizona Housing Needs Assessment. Retrieved from
Arizona Coalition to End Homelessness. (2022). 2022 Arizona Point-in-Time Homeless Count; Survey. Retrieved
Arizona Department of Health Services. (n.d.). COVID-19 Data Dashboard. Retrieved September 21, 2021, from
National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE). (2020).Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program
Data Collection Summary: School Year 2019-2020. Retrieved from https://nche.ed.gov/wp-
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