The city of Tucson has recently been awarded a $2.7 million grant from the state to tackle its pressing issue of homelessness.

The grant funds will be primarily allocated towards the transformation of an old motel into a shelter, providing much-needed assistance to the city’s unhoused population.

Housing First Program Director, Brandi Champion, emphasizes the urgent need for additional shelter options and improved living conditions for the city’s most vulnerable.

“This will help with remedying some of the homeless encampments in the area,” said Champion. “It will help with providing services to people, getting them aligned with partner agencies.”

Through collaborative efforts with partner agencies, the transformed shelter will provide a comprehensive range of services, including job training and mental health counseling, recognizing the importance of holistic support for individuals transitioning out of homelessness.

Champion further explains, “If you’re living on the street for a long period of time, even for a short period of time, you lose focus on some of these things, so realigning them, getting them back adjusted to living in an apartment and the things you have to do to keep that apartment.”

With over 2,200 unhoused residents in Tucson, according to recent data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the new shelter is expected to alleviate strain on the city’s existing shelters.

“I think it alleviates some stress,” adds Champion. “Low barrier shelter is kind of different than our traditional shelters in that you can bring your pet. If you’re not married and you say this is your household, that’s what we accept as being your household.”

As the grant was received just this week, there is currently no specific timetable for the official opening of the hotel-turned-shelter.

The city currently operates four other shelters. Two of those shelters are slated to close by mid-month when the old Amazon Motel will take on those clients according to Champion.