TEMPE, Ariz. - The City of Tempe is undergoing a big project to help tackle homelessness in the city, as they renovate an old motel, and turn it into transitional housing.
The project could take some time, but city officials say these additional 40 transitional housing units are very much needed in the East Valley city.
"There just really aren't enough resources in our community or across the nation, really, to address this rise," said Deborah Arteaga, CEO of the Tempe Community Action Agency.
That, city officials say, is one of the many reasons why they decided to expand shelter and housing options, through the purchase of a 40-room motel off Apache Boulevard. The purchase was made possible thanks to a $3.3 million federal grant through the American Rescue Plan Act.
The city also approved $450,000 in nonprofit grants to provide an additional 60 shelter beds. Arteaga said they are seeing more and more people living on the streets. Last time the city took a count, they found 400 people were homeless in Tempe. She believes the problem has only gotten worse amid the pandemic.
"More recently, with the eviction moratorium expiring, we were experiencing people experiencing eviction throughout the pandemic, but even more so recently, especially among older adults," said Arteaga.
"To house the people of Tempe who are in need of shelter, people who might be sleeping in parks, people who might be sleeping on the river bottom at Tempe Beach Park. We have to find ways to really create safe, high-quality housing options, because the reality is no one deserves to live on the street. No one deserves to live in those kinds of conditions," said Tempe Mayor Corey Woods.
Arteaga explains that these expanded shelter and transitional housing options will make a world of difference to these families, because as things stand currently, there simply is not enough room.
"We're limited in where we can help individuals, even in our own agency," said Arteaga. "Our shelter beds are full every night, so it is frustrating for our human service workers right now."
City officials say the motel renovations for transitional housing could be complete as early as December.
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