(The Center Square)– Arizona state Rep. Barbara Parker, R-Mesa, is opposing the city of Mesa’s plan to buy a hotel and use it for the homeless, a growing trend in the state.
Mesa is eyeing the purchase of the Grand Hotel on 6733 E. Main Street, in order to use the 70-room building for it’s “temporary housing program” known as Off the Streets, according to the city website.
“The proposed acquisition of the Grand Hotel to house homeless individuals is a clear violation of the trust placed in our local government by our citizens and is a sad failure by Councilmembers to listen to the voices of their constituents,” Parker said in a statement.
“These property owners in Mesa have voiced their legitimate concerns over neighborhood safety, property values, the use of taxpayer funds, and the role of government in addressing homelessness,” she added.
Despite the concerns, the city’s website says that the purpose of the purchase is to move their already existing program from a hotel in northeast Mesa and is “referral-based” and has strict guidelines to prevent drug use. Even though the website states that the hotel would exclusively house “seniors, families and domestic violence victims”, Parker is raising concerns about behavioral health issues that could arise.
“Moreover, the City Council’s approach fails to address the critical issues of drug addiction and behavioral health that plague our homeless population,” she said in the statement. “The so-called ‘housing first’ strategy, as adopted by the City of Mesa, has failed time and again in other cities, proving to be a costly and ineffective solution.”
In July, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors signed off on $4 million to give the city for the purchase, stemming from the American Rescue Plan Act, according to KJZZ. The price tag is for the hotel is $7.4 million in total, The Mesa Tribune reported.
The Center Square reached out to the City Council for comment, and Councilmember Mark Freeman provided a statement:
“I think it is worth mentioning that not all 7 members of the Mesa City Council are in support of the purchase of the Grand Hotel. When addressing this issue, it essential to consider all perspectives and understand all concerns before drawing collusions about support for the project,” he said.