City of Scottsdale defends hotel rooms to address the homeless crisis as residents push back

Hotels for the homeless – that’s the issue at the heart of a contentious public hearing in Scottsdale on Wednesday.

The city is accepting money from the state to continue running a program that allows the homeless to live in hotel rooms, but not everyone is happy with the plan.

This program isn’t new and has been going on for over a year now.

Some residents who aren't happy say they weren’t notified about this, and demand something else is done.

"The paying guests of this hotel are not aware. They are not given any notification that the hotel is operating as a quasi-homeless shelter. That’s a problem," State Representative Matt Gress said.

In a packed house on the night of Sept. 13 at the Civic Center Library, hundreds of residents came to share their thoughts on a city of Scottsdale homeless program.

"What is the increased danger to the staff and paying guests?"

"It’s right across the street from the Great Lodge Resort, which is a family resort."

Emotions ran high.

"I am calling on you Mayor Ortega to form a citizen advisory board because I have lost all trust in the city council," a resident said.

Ortega fended off critics who shared safety concerns.

"We have been operating a quiet intervention. It involves ten hotel rooms. There have been absolutely no police calls," the mayor said.

This year, the state awarded the city just under a million dollars for its operation.

The city says half of that money goes toward funding the hotel rooms. The other half goes to social programs.

"This has operated for over a year with a focus on Scottsdale veterans, on single-parent families, and through this last year, there have been 52 children," Mayor Ortega explained.

So far, they've helped a total of 120 people. The city claims 84% of them found permanent housing within 30 to 60 days.

"The people we are serving are Scottsdale residents who have fallen through the cracks," Greg Bestgen said. He's the city's Human Services Director.

Not everyone is pleased.

"They didn’t do the hard work of reaching out to the community, and the community doesn’t think that this is the right way forward," Rep. Gress said.

He's critical of the policy.

"I just don’t think that getting some hotel rooms, converting them into homeless shelters, and then still operating the hotel like everything is normal. That is just not a workable solution, and we’ve seen it fail so many other times in other places," he said.

Scottsdale isn’t the only one to have this kind of program either. The city of Mesa also runs one like it.

That too has received some criticism from neighbors.

Learn more about the program here.