AZ Department Of Housing Will Not Enforce Homeless Housing Provision In Contract With Scottsdale

September 5, 2023

By Daniel Stefanski |

A freshman Arizona Republican Representative scored a victory in his efforts to uphold the interests of hard-working taxpayers.

Last week, Representative Matt Gress issued a press release, announcing that “the Arizona Department of Housing won’t be enforcing a controversial – and very likely illegal – provision in its contract with the City of Scottsdale.”

Gress’s release explained that the “contract provision would have authorized the City to use the state funds to house homeless people from ‘the zone’ in downtown Phoenix and foreign nationals who otherwise would have been expelled under Title 42 in a hotel close to Pima and Indian Bend Roads.” The release added that “the City was previously awarded a $940,000 grant from the Department of Housing to carry out the terms of the contract,” and that “the Department has now admitted to Representative Gress that, despite the terms of the Contract, it does not intend to enforce the ‘Zone’ or the ‘Title 42’ provisions of its Contract with the City.”

In a statement accompanying his release, Gress said, “This is a victory for the safety and well-being of Scottsdale’s residents, many who staunchly oppose their tax dollars being spent to house homeless from other cities and foreign nationals who should have been deported under Title 42. I maintain serious concerns regarding the city’s intentions to utilize area hotels for this purpose and intend to pursue this matter further. Soon I will announce details of a public subcommittee hearing where I plan to delve more deeply into the problematic approach of converting hotels to housing for homeless.”

On August 3, Representative Gress transmitted a letter to Arizona Department of Housing Director Joan Serviss, expressing his concerns about “significant and unsettled questions (regarding) the validity and enforceability of the Contract” between the City of Scottsdale and the Department. Gress asserted that “nothing in state law or S.B. 1720 (what the Department derived its authority to execute the Contract under), however, authorizes the Department or the City to use state monies to provide housing for foreign nationals who entered the country after Title 42 was lifted in early May.”

The Representative warned that “if the Department enforces this unlawful provision, or if the City attempts to require the hotel to house individuals from the Zone or aliens who have been released under the federal government’s unconstitutional parole program, the City and the Department will be vulnerable to a lawsuit by a taxpayer to recover the illegal payment of public monies.”

Director Serviss responded to Gress on August 18, informing the legislator that “while we stand by the validity of the Contract, we have confirmed with the City that the shelter beds and services provided pursuant to the Contract have not and will not serve those individuals impacted by the Zone and Title 42.”

The issue of temporarily housing foreign nationals in cities around Arizona is not new to the state. In 2021, former Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich sent a letter to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Acting Director of the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, “expressing grave concerns that an ICE contractor has apparently subcontracted with the current owners of a hotel…in Scottsdale to operate a 1,200-person ICE detention facility.” Brnovich noted his disappointment with the federal government over its neglect to confer with his office before executing this contract, highlighting the “important public safety issues involved in locating any detention center in a community setting.”

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.

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