PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- The number of homeless seniors in the Valley is rising, with rent prices sky high and the limitations of a fixed income.
"We have 26-percent more new clients than we had at this point last year," said Wendy Johnson, executive director with the non-profit Justa Center. "It's just a cascading issue with low-income elderly, and the more isolated they are from family and friends, the more likely they will come to someplace like Justa Center."
To ease the stress and suffering of older adults, the City of Phoenix announced plans to convert the Phoenix Inn, off I-17 and Northern Avenue, into a 130 room shelter for older adults.
The price of rent across the Phoenix metro area has shot up so much, its nearly impossible to find an affordable place to live.
The city and state have teamed up with Central Arizona Shelter Services to renovate the Phoenix Inn into a facility that provides temporary assistance to vulnerable communities.
Tamyra Spendly is the Deputy Director of Homelessness for the City of Phoenix. "One location focusing on seniors takes them out of the mass population at some of the shelters that are mixed with other age groups," said Spendly. " We can focus on them and bring in unique services to individuals 55 and older."
Over the years, building a shelter near a neighborhood has been a significant challenge, with homeowners often pushing back, saying, "not in my backyard."
But this project was different. Jeff Spellman and his neighbors have been very supportive of helping seniors in need while cleaning up their community.
"The hotel where it's going to be has historically been a problematic hotel, with lots of crime in it," said Spellman. "We know when it gets converted to a better use, we'll never experience that kind of crime in that hotel again. We want to be part of solution."
The new shelter is expected to be up and running by summer 2022.