Scottsdale mulls homelessness solutions after tense legislative hearing



(The Center Square) – The Scottsdale City Council is set to consider more housing solutions on Tuesday.

As part of Scottsdale’s Bridge Housing Program, the city is looking at building 28 affordable housing units at the Paiute Neighborhood Center, which has an estimated cost of $15.7 million, with the costs expected to be split somewhat evenly between federal and city funding.

In addition, the city is looking at continuing its contract in the controversial hotel program, as 10 rooms at a local hotel to provide housing to families with children and seniors.

“Human Services has administered its Bridge Housing Program in partnership with Pengol Hospitality I, LLC at this current location for one year. Under this new agreement with Pengol Hospitality, 10 hotel rooms will be used to continue its Bridge Housing Program to provide a safe and stable place to stay for seniors and families with minor children who have been displaced from their Scottsdale homes,” the city council report states.

However, concerns about using the hotel or other city resources for Title 42 migrants, or people who were in Phoenix’s large homeless encampment known as the “Zone,” persist.

“The Scottsdale program will not take U.S. immigration referrals through Title 42,” the Monday news release from the city stated.

When asked about the city’s proposals, state Rep. Matt Gress, R-Phoenix, emphasized the importance of treatment for behavioral health issues when it comes to solving homelessness.

“After reading the materials, there really isn’t a deep dive into the case management and treatment services provided at Paiute or the homeless hotel program, which is the most important aspect of a bridge program. Treatment first must be prioritized with any homelessness program,” Gress told The Center Square in an email.

“For the affordable housing units, I agree with the concept but wonder if empowering the private and non-profit sectors is more sustainable and cost-effective in the long run. It appears that Maricopa County and Scottsdale are seeking to expend the remaining federal COVID relief funds before they revert back to the federal government. In doing so, the City takes on a massive capital and operational responsibility that has been successfully handled by other partners in prior projects,” he added.

Gress, who chairs the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Budgetary Funding Formulas, held a hearing in Scottsdale last week alongside Rep. Quang Nguyen, R-Prescott Valley, and Rep. Judy Schwiebert, D-Phoenix, to question city officials on the program. As the council signed off on a $940,000 grant from the Arizona Department of Housing in June, the program has been the subject of state-level scrutiny. Specifically, the October to September 2024 funding for the contract with Pengol Hospitality carries a price tag of $499,933.

At the hearing, the lawmakers pressed Scottsdale Mayor David Ortega about the metrics used to define the program’s success.

“Scottsdale has been very successful…in a very deliberate manner before this funding came. We have never taken Title 42 clients, and we have not taken ‘Zone’ clients,” Ortega said at the hearing, The Center Square previously reported.

Although there was confusion over the actual success rate of the program during the hearing, the city said in a news release that “70% of participants have secured housing within 30 to 90 days” and helped out 120 people in the city in 2022.



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