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Woman moves into new home then learns a homeless couple is living on her porch
Lisa Kurtz was excited to move into her new house when she found out a homeless couple was already occupying it.
Jaclyn Abergas
06.03.22

When you buy an existing house, are you also excited to find stuff that the previous owners left behind?

Maybe they left a pan or a chair or a skateboard. Who knows?

But what Lisa Kurtz found at her new home is something nobody would expect.

Last month, when she moved into her new home in Phoenix, Arizona, she did not expect to find a homeless couple living in a small tent on the porch.

The previous homeowner had been working on the house for a year and gave the couple permission to stay there while it was empty.

YouTube - Inside Edition
Source:
YouTube - Inside Edition

“They asked them to stay on the porch and keep an eye on the place. They said when the new owner comes in, they’ll probably ask you to move on,” Lisa explained.

Lisa is a Ph.D. student working on heat and health in Phoenix and she knew how dangerous the streets could be, especially since summer is fast approaching.

“We knew if we moved them on from here, the next place they go is under a bridge or a public park or somewhere that is a lot less safe in the summer,” Lisa said.

YouTube - Inside Edition
Source:
YouTube - Inside Edition

And so the couple stayed.

“At this point, we consider them kind of informal roommates. So they have keys, they have access to the bathroom, to the laundry, to the kitchen. The only thing we don’t really have for them is an extra bedroom,” Lisa added.

However, even on the porch, it was still hot. So the couple decided to put up tarps to block out the sun and give them some shade.

YouTube - Inside Edition
Source:
YouTube - Inside Edition

Unfortunately, this got them into trouble with the City of Phoenix Neighborhood Services Department, which said visible tarps are an ordinance violation and need to be removed.

Normally, people would get angry and defy the notice. But Lisa took a different approach.

YouTube - Inside Edition
Source:
YouTube - Inside Edition

She knew the city was only trying to solve the homeless problem as well as make sure the neighborhood does not become an eyesore. So she did what needed to be done.

“I was literally like, OK, there [are] these two separate systems that are interacting and touching and they’re in conflict with one another, what can we do to resolve that and get on the same page?” Lisa said.

YouTube - Inside Edition
Source:
YouTube - Inside Edition

The truth is, homelessness has been a decades-long concern in the city of Phoenix and the state of Arizona.

According to the Phoenix Rescue Mission, Arizona is in the top five US states with a lack of affordable housing for individuals living below the poverty line. Homelessness has also increased by 58% in the past 3 years, even before and since the pandemic started.

This made Arizona the number 12 state with the most number of homeless people in the US.

YouTube - Inside Edition
Source:
YouTube - Inside Edition

And the city is doing its best to provide for the homeless people.

They spend almost $20 million annually to provide solutions to the problem and provide direct assistance, including homeless outreach and engagement, and emergency shelter, among others.

But the root cause of homelessness is so much deeper and it will take more than just the city to solve it.

YouTube - Inside Edition
Source:
YouTube - Inside Edition

There’s not just one cause but many reasons that contribute to and complicate homelessness.

These reasons include Addiction, Job Loss, Domestic Violence, Mental Health Issues, Loss of Home, and/or Grief/Despair.

That’s why the City of Phoenix appreciated Lisa’s initiative to help with the problem.

“One of the goals of the City’s code enforcement process is to achieve voluntary compliance by working with property owners to address violations without getting to a citation, whenever possible. We appreciate residents who are responsive to notices, as well as residents who want to partner to provide support and solutions to the growing homeless crisis. This property owner has shown initiative and compassion, and we believe that by working together the violations can be addressed without the need to issue a citation,” the City of Phoenix said in an official statement to Arizona’s Family.

YouTube - Inside Edition
Source:
YouTube - Inside Edition

And now, because of the good heart of the people they’ve encountered, the homeless couple has been blessed with an advocate.

They’re now being connected with the resources they need to get back on their feet and they’ve even gotten job interviews.

“Sometimes all people need is that little respite, that little nudge,” Lisa shared.

YouTube - Inside Edition
Source:
YouTube - Inside Edition

Learn more about Lisa Kurtz and the state of homelessness in Arizona when you watch the video below.

Please SHARE this with your friends and family.

By Jaclyn Abergas
hi@sbly.com
Jaclyn Abergas is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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