PHOENIX – The Scottsdale City Council voted Tuesday to fund bridge housing at a local hotel for people who have been displaced from their homes.
The council approved $499,933 for the Independence 47 Hotel to open temporary housing for senior citizens and families with children.
The hotel, at 7330 N. Pima Road, will offer 10 rooms Oct. 1 through Sept. 30, 2024. According to city documents, hygiene products and utilities will be provided.
A hotel employee said there will be weekly housekeeping. The hotel plans to undergo renovation in April 2024 and work to make the property safer.
The contract is paid for by a $940,000 grant from the Arizona Department of Housing, which the city council voted to approve on June 27.
The hotel contract is an extension of the city’s bridge housing program, which aims to “provide a safe and stable place to stay,” according to a presentation from Tuesday’s meeting.
Individuals who have been homeless for over one year, or are repeatedly in and out of homelessness, with disabling conditions such as substance use disorder, serious mental illness or physical disability are not eligible for the program.
Scottsdale Human Services Director Greg Bestgen said during Tuesday’s meeting that bridge housing “assists families and seniors by providing housing and case management with the goal of returning the clients to the most independent living situation possible within 120 days.”
Bestgen said the bridge program provides a temporary setting for individuals to find stable living situations and more affordable living.
“The bridge program is predicated on a … highly case-managed system,” Bestgen said. “Case management works in all cases when it involves getting people into safe and stable housing.”
Scottsdale Mayor David Ortega expressed his support in an email on Wednesday: “I am pleased that Scottsdale is continuing the successful bridge housing program that is responsible for so many positive outcomes for our most vulnerable residents.”
Some Scottsdale residents and legislators, however, have cited safety concerns for guests who are paying to stay at the hotel.
“I have a concern about the vetting of participants,” state Rep. Matt Gress, R-Phoenix, said in an interview Wednesday. “How do they know whether someone has addiction issues or not?”
Independence 47 Hotel manager Charles Feeley, however, said at the Tuesday meeting he is not concerned with housing unsheltered individuals at the hotel.
“These clients are not drug addicts or criminals. They are human beings,” Feeley said. “They are going through some tough times and have reached out for help. These people, for the most part, have been priced out of their place of living … and have struggled to find a new place.”
Gress, who represents a portion of Scottsdale and has been a vocal critic of the program, also cited concerns of the city’s handling of people experiencing homelessness, saying the city should have considered other housing options, such as homeless shelters and nonprofit organizations.
“A hotel is just not the appropriate venue for emergency housing,” Gress said.
Included in the city council report were emails of varying opinions sent to city officials and staff.
“We support the City’s Homeless program to help the homeless at the Independence 47 Hotel,” one emailer wrote to several council members.
Another wrote to the council: “You are DESTROYING SCOTTSDALE!!!”