AP NEWS

Groups transform former Tucson hotel to homeless aid center

June 1, 2019

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — A foundation, aid groups and nonprofits are transforming a former Tucson hotel into a 350-bed facility for the homeless.

The H.S. Lopez Family Foundation Center of Opportunity opening on Monday will include a 150-bed men’s emergency center in the space that used to be the ballroom of the former Radisson hotel.

The center located in an industrial area on the city’s south side will also provide hot meals, connections to health and social services and a facility to help homeless people get jobs.

“We help people move from homelessness to self-sufficiency,” said Victor Hightower, spokesperson for the Gospel Rescue Mission.

The project is a collaboration between the H.S. Lopez Family Foundation, Gospel Rescue Mission, La Frontera Arizona and about 25 other local nonprofits and providers, the Arizona Daily Star reports .

“I want to give dignity to these people,” said Humberto Lopez, founder of the foundation. “Some are treated worse than animals. I want to give them a nice place to go where they will have access to all the services they need to get back on their feet and reintegrate with society under one roof.”

After Radisson vacated the property the contents of the rooms and the kitchen equipment remained.

The kitchen is built for 3,000 meals a day. The center will start by serving 1,000 hot meals a day, with room to grow.

The former hotel rooms have been converted into 51 living spaces, each sleeping four.

The location will also provide living quarters for the Gospel Rescue Mission men’s addiction and alcohol recovery program, and for the women and children’s center, complete with a playroom.

The workforce development facility will provide services such as GED classes, interview skills and work clothes.

There are also plans for La Frontera Arizona to provide behavioral health services, while El Rio Health Center will run a medical and dental center.

And Arizona Department of Economic Security representative will help people apply for food stamps, health insurance and cash assistance.

“We’re bringing all these services under one roof to eliminate obstacles,” said Lisa Chastain, associate executive director for the Gospel Rescue Mission.

Chastain said the Gospel Rescue Mission had been looking for a new site for its men’s shelter for about a year when they got a call from Lopez saying he had purchased the 8-acre (32,375-sq. meter) property.

About $10 million has gone into the center so far and there are plans to invest another $10 million on future additions over the next year.

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