A Tucson landmark is getting an upgrade thanks to a large Federal grant. The project should go beyond rehabbing Tucson House for a broader neighborhood benefit.

Just north of downtown Tucson House has been a lifeline for older and low income people. But the building is showing it’s age. Now it’s headed for a major renovation with benefits that will ripple out into the neighborhood.

More than 400 people live in Tucson House. It opened in the early 1960s as luxury apartments. By the 70s the City of Tucson was operating it as a place for low income Tucsonans.

Mike Edmonds has been so active working to help the Tucson House neighborhood, Ward 3 Councilmember Kevin Dahl hired him as a community liaison. Edmonds says says Tucson House was there for him when he needed it.

I was laid off in 2007; couch surfed for over 10 years. Unemployed. Received at an old address, you know, postcard that said, Hey, you might qualify. I applied. I got it. I’ve been here for four years. If I didn’t have this, I wouldn’t have anything. I would be like some other people who have nothing.

But after years of helping people in need, Tucson House needs help to erase some of those years and be ready for a long future.

Now the building is at the heart of a 50 million dollar Federal grant to rehab the building, and add more low income apartments nearby.

Councilmember Dahl says the improvements will be leverage to get other grants to upgrade the neighborhood.

There will be an urgent care center nearby for people. They will be dealing with the food desert that’s in the area. There’ll be a pantry nearby. There’ll be other services that are available; mental health to the residents of Tucson House. Our nearby Wildcat Inn where we’re doing low barrier congregational housing for people who are homeless.

Work on Tucson House should start at the end of next year and finish two years after that.

Mike Edmonds worked to help the project happen and is happy to see it come through.

There’s a faith component and a belief component. (laughs) So you look for things like okay, this happened so maybe the next thing that happens on May the next so you want to see some progress, you want to see some proof before you’re willing to go, Alright, it’s gonna happen.