Summer Months Turn Flagstaff Into Homeless Haven Despite City's Harsh Laws
|Trash heaps left by homeless campers usually becomes a problem for residents and law enforcement|
This week's New Times cover story looks at the relationship between the hordes of backpacking homeless and the picturesque city that is trying to deal with them.
While Flagstaff provides a nice break from the harsh weather of Phoenix, residents of the small mountain city live in fear of the havoc these long-term visitors can cause -- like wildfires.
Last year's Hardy fire was started by a homeless Californian transient who set up camp in the woods on the outskirts of Flagstaff.
The fire burned about 300 acres and cost roughly $1 million to put out. The man who started it, Randall Wayne Nicholson, is now serving a year-and-a-half in jail.
But despite the dangers the mountains continue to provide a sort of
welcoming camp ground for homeless, creating the type of "hobo culture"
most Arizona residents associate with the blue-skied college town.
See the story's slideshow here.