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Scottsdale mayor gets pushback on program to shelter homeless residents

By Matthew Casey
Published: Thursday, September 14, 2023 - 8:14pm

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David Ortega
Kevinjonah Paguio/Cronkite News
Scottsdale Mayor David Ortega (right) speaks with the Appropriations Subcommittee on Budgetary Funding Formulas at Civic Center Library in Scottsdale on Sept. 13, 2023.

The mayor of Scottsdale says a homeless program that was the subject of a field hearing on Wednesday serves city residents.

Public money to help pay for a handful of hotel rooms to keep people off the street had drawn attention from a Republican state lawmaker who represents much of the city.

State Rep. Matt Gress (R-Phoenix) led the hearing. After talking with city officials about the program, Gress said he worries about participant vetting and outcome tracking. He sought a commitment that Scottsdale would not take in migrants or people from the infamous homeless encampment in Phoenix called “The Zone.”

“I will not allow the disastrous policies of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle and even Phoenix (to) seep its way into our community,” Gress said.

Tammy Smith
Kevinjonah Paguio/Cronkite News
Tammy Smith (right) addresses the committee during a community hearing at Civic Center Library in Scottsdale on Sept. 13, 2023.

Mayor David Ortega said that since 2019, Scottsdale officials have seen a constant stream of locals facing eviction. He called the homeless program in question a quiet intervention with a 70% success rate that was previously not paid for with state money.

“We have our hands full with literally hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of Scottsdale residents,” said Ortega.

The program focuses on using the hotel rooms to keep Scottsdale veterans, single-parent families and children off the street. Ortega told critics the program has a waiting list to get in and providing shelter is only part of the effort. 

“The other half works with our social programs. That’s where we try to redirect because people are looking for jobs. They may have been laid off. And they may have lost their house,” said Ortega.

Quang Nguyen and Luticia Taylor
Kevinjonah Paguio/Cronkite News
Luticia Taylor (right) talks with State Rep. Quang Nguyen (R-Prescott Valley) after a community hearing at Civic Center Library in Scottsdale on Sept. 13, 2023. Taylor is the founder of Healing Hearts Foundation and volunteers to help those in “The Zone”.

Politics Housing