It happened outside Pennycroft Court flats in Corporation Street with the victim airlifted to hospital.
Police are appealing for witnesses after the victim, from Stafford, named locally as Ben Miles, arrived at County Hospital with multiple stab wounds at around 5.40pm on Friday.
He was flown to the Royal Stoke University Hospital, where he remains in a life-threatening condition.
Residents at Pennycroft Court said they saw police cars ‘everywhere’ while it was still light out on Friday.
A member of staff, who asked not to be named, working at the Spar shop opposite the building, said: “That area, it’s a bit troublesome at times – it has a bit of a reputation.
“But I’ve worked here for two and a bit years and nothing like this has happened before.”
A resident of Pennycroft said: “I’ve only been living here 10 weeks but it makes me not want to live here anymore.There were just loads of police, and a blue tent set up as well.”
Facebook user Sharron Flanaghan said: “What the hell is wrong with people, hope you pull though and get well soon.”
Anyone with any information should call Staffordshire Police on 101, quoting incident 600 of August 24.
Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 or at crimestoppers-uk.org