By Corinne Murdock |
The city of Flagstaff received nearly $9 million in federal funding to provide about 100 additional rooms for the homeless.
The Arizona Department of Housing (ADOH) issued $8.95 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for purchase and renovation of the motel. The motel will provide 103 rooms as transitional housing before becoming permanent supportive housing.
Permanent supportive housing provides aid such as long-term leasing or renting assistance, as well as services to treat issues preventing total independence like mental illness and substance abuse.
Flagstaff Shelter Services (FSS), a nonprofit organization, will run the housing project. The housing is scheduled to become available this December.
FSS is the only Coconino County agency that provides emergency shelter and services without preconditions, such as sobriety, treatment, or service participation requirements.
Nixing preconditions for shelter and services is a key component of the “housing first” model toward addressing homelessness. “Housing first” theorizes that the homeless will choose to seek employment, achieve financial responsibility, receive mental health care, and/or receive substance abuse treatment if housing is first provided.
Flagstaff named housing first its choice approach for mitigating homelessness, following declaration of a housing emergency in 2020. The city unveiled its goals last February when it launched a 10-year housing plan to address the emergency.
Flagstaff noted that addressing homelessness would likely require an undisclosed number of millions of dollars.
In addition to outlining its housing first approach, Flagstaff attributed homelessness to systemic racial inequities. It also suggested implementing housing equity, in which individuals would receive disparate treatment in order to achieve purportedly equal outcomes.
Last July, FSS received nearly $6.2 million to purchase another motel, the historic Howard Johnson Motel off of Route 66, to provide 58 rooms to the homeless. FSS estimated they could serve over 1,000 people annually with emergency shelter through the motel conversion.
According to the Arizona Department of Economic Security annual report issued last December, there were over 13,500 homeless people in the entire state.