ARIZONA NEWS

Mesa to buy 70-room Grand Hotel to house people experiencing homelessness

Jun 15, 2023, 4:00 PM | Updated: Jun 16, 2023, 1:56 pm

Mesa hotel...

Hotel property being purchased in Mesa to house people experiencing homelessness. (Google Maps Photo)

(Google Maps Photo)

PHOENIX — The city of Mesa started executing its $7.4 million purchase contract for the 70-room Grand Hotel on Power Road and Main Street last month. It’s part of the city’s Off the Streets program, which started in 2020 when Maricopa County rented 12 rooms to provide homeless housing solutions in downtown Mesa.

“We knew immediately that we needed more rooms,” Deputy City Manager Natalie Lewis told KTAR News 92.3 FM. The program expanded to lease the 85-room Windemere Hotel, but now it’s time for a more permanent solution.

The whole idea is to take the program we have currently at the Windemere Hotel, which is about 1.5 miles to the West, and move it to this hotel,” Lewis said. “This just gives us a longer-term outlook for the Off the Streets program.”

Off the Streets has served over 1,500 people since its inception. “About 75% of them are graduating and moving on to their next step in their housing. We’re really proud of that number because before Covid, those numbers of success were more like 30 to 40%,” Lewis said. “It’s worth investing in for the long term, which is why Mesa is pursuing the purchase of a hotel.”

The Mesa City Council authorized the purchase in a 4-3 vote during a May 15 meetingFunds come from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021, which pays government entities to reverse pandemic-related issues. It’s not certain how long the city will keep the Grand Hotel shelter at 6733 E. Main Street running, though.

Homeless housing options in Mesa expanding

“The federal dollars by themselves don’t have a specific timeline,” City Attorney Jim Smith said during the council meeting. Originally, Maricopa County’s deal with Mesa included a requirement to keep the Grand Hotel shelter running for 10 years, but the council negotiated a flexible agreement. Now, the hotel’s longevity is up to the council’s discretion.

But first, the purchase contract has to go through. Once the process is complete, the city will evaluate the Grand Hotel and see if it needs accessibility upgrades. “It’s probably a year or two out before we’re actually moving people over and in to that program,” Lewis said. “Our goal is that people stay no longer than 90 days. Sixty-seven days is our average.”

Not everybody experiencing homelessness is ready to make the leap to a permanent home. That’s why Lewis thinks of hotel housing options as pre-shelter solutions. “This is going to help them launch and move into their housing plan moving forward,” she said. 

The city hasn’t hammered out all the details of buying and converting the hotel. Anyone who wants to pitch in their two cents should mark their calendars for July 11. That’s when the City Council will host the first community meeting for the proposed hotel purchase at the Jefferson Recreation Center at 120 S. Jefferson Avenue.

Those who want to share their feedback before then can email OffTheStreets@MesaAz.gov or call 480-644-HOPE (4673).

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Colton Krolak contributed to this report.

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Mesa to buy 70-room Grand Hotel to house people experiencing homelessness