As Arizona continues to face homelessness issues, Rep. Matt Gress, R-Phoenix, is hoping to crack down on drug-related crime in areas where homeless individuals typically congregate.
House Bill 2782 would make it illegal to “sell or transfer dangerous drugs or narcotic drugs” in a homeless service zone, and would increase the minimum and maximum sentence for drug dealing by one year if it takes place in one of those “drug-free” zones, as well as impose a minimum $2,000 fine for those convicted.
“This legislation is an important step towards reducing chronic homelessness and drug-related crime, ensuring that Arizona’s vulnerable populations are effectively supported while ensuring public safety,” Gress (pictured above) said in a statement on Tuesday. “Establishing accountability within homeless service zones will help safeguard our communities from drug-related crime and offer a more structured and supportive environment for our homeless population to rebuild their lives.”
The legislation defines these zones as “within three hundred feet of a facility or its accompanying grounds” where homeless services, such as temporary housing, are provided. It would require these providers to also have signs that state that the area is drug-free.
This is not the first time Gress has scrutinized the state’s homelessness problems. He led a House of Representatives hearing in Scottsdale in September, in which he and other lawmakers questioned Scottsdale Mayor David Ortega on a hotel program for homeless individuals, The Center Square reported.