South Tucson is a 1.2 square mile city located next to one of the hotspots for encampments in Tucson: Santa Rita Park. It’s not unusual to see unhoused people on the streets in this area.

That’s been a reality for a while for the city. Still, businesses that have been in the city for years have brought their concerns to the South Tucson City Council about their recent experiences with unhoused people.

Just last week, two businesses confirmed they had recently had small fires outside of their businesses. KGUN9 spoke to one of those businesses, Dancing in the Streets Arizona, about their concerns.

RELATED STORY: South Tucson business fired up after finding walls burned from small fire

South Tucson Police Commander Raul Navarro shared these were likely warming fires and are common all over Tucson during this time of year.

Although homelessness and warming fires are not unique to South Tucson, Navarro said the amount of unhoused people he’s seen since October in South Tucson is new.

Also in October, there was a large apartment complex really close by to the southeast of the city of South Tucson that closed that had a large amount of people, he said.

Navarro is referring to The Ocotillo Apartments. The apartment’s management attemped to evict hundreds of residents, but the complex was condemned by the City of Tucson a week later. This forced some of those people onto the streets.

RELATED STORY: Nearly 200 people evicted from southside Ocotillo Apartments & Hotel

“While the City of Tucson did a great job at being prepared to offer them resources to get them housing, not all of them took it. And so some of those people have since migrated and really use our city as a point to get from one destination to another, said Navarro.

RELATED STORY: People evicted from Southside’s Ocotillo Apartments camp out in Santa Rita Park

He’s used to seeing the unhoused people that have been in the area for years, like Paul White. White’s current encampment is in Tucson, on the outskirts of South Tucson, but he’s been around the South Tucson area for 10 years.

All the places that you go for homeless is in South Tucson. If you go anywhere else its pretty much too far away. The soup kitchen, the library is right up the street. They let us hang out in here and stuff like that, said White when asked why he chooses to stay around South Tucson.

He said he’s also seen a lot of new, younger faces. While homelessness is not a crime, Commander Raul Navarro said housing is a solution. The City of Tucson has shared their Housing First resources with unhoused people in South Tucson within the past month.

As far as the amount of property damage or disturbances, he said he hasn’t seen an increase. If officers respond to incidents, they offer safety advice or if there are disturbances related to unhoused people, they make attempts to connect them with housing resources.

To assist with crime in the area, he said the police department recently implemented a Citizens Patrol Program manned by the Arizona Rangers. He recommended for anyone in a dangerous situation to call 911 immediately.

He also recommended for any concerned homeowners or business owners to protect their space. This can be done with security cameras, proper lighting, and making the space as uninviting to crime as possible.

The broken windows theory. Basically, if you allow the area to look rundown, it attracts a certain level of people that increase crime. Its an old theory but it still holds true, he said.