Officials respond to concerns over Scottsdale’s homeless hotel program

City uses nearly $1 million to put homeless people into a hotel
Dozens of people showed up to a meeting in Scottsdale where they questioned the effectiveness of the city's homeless hotel program.
Published: Sep. 13, 2023 at 9:30 PM MST
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SCOTTSDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) — The city of Scottsdale is using close to a million dollars in state funding to put some homeless people up in a hotel near Salt River Fields. And at a community meeting at the Scottsdale Civic Center library on Wednesday, that led to pushback from some in the community.

Homeless people who are approved by the city can stay at the Independence 47 Hotel in Scottsdale for a month while using city resources to look for long-term housing. There are also paying customers who stay at this hotel. And some in the city say that’s a problem. “Alert people, stay out of Scottsdale,” one woman who attended the meeting said, “especially the hotels.”

Dozens at the meeting spoke to state and city lawmakers about the nearly million dollars of state aid to help house the homeless in the city. There was a dominant message. “It’s flat-out dangerous, reckless, and damages the city of Scottsdale,” one woman told lawmakers.

State Rep. Matt Gress, a Republican from Phoenix, organized the community meeting because he wanted people in Scottsdale to better understand how the city is addressing its homelessness situation. “A lot of the conversation we had today focused on the pitfalls of just putting shelter over people and not providing them the services and treatment they need,” Gress said.

Gress and others shared concerns over the lack of sobriety and drug verification for those participating and the lack of follow-up on those who have left the hotel to make sure they stay off the streets. But Scottsdale Mayor David Ortega has defended how his city has provided resources for the unsheltered. “We will continue in a positive manner to reach especially Scottsdale residents who have been displaced and homeless,” Ortega said. “And we have a record of success in doing so.”

Ortega says 84% of those staying at these hotels have gotten into secured housing within 30 to 90 days. A few miles down the road, Mesa Mayor John Giles isn’t surprised. He says his city has successfully provided temporary housing in hotels for about three years. “What we’ve found is that because people are enrolled in programming and we work with them to get back on their feet. More than 75% of the folks, when they leave, go to stable housing,” Giles said. “They don’t return to the streets.”

The $940,000 the city of Scottsdale received earlier this summer came from the state’s Homeless Shelter and Services Fund.

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