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DIGGING DEEPER: Agencies step up to help house homeless in hotels

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TUCSON (KVOA) - The homeless situation seems to be getting worse for some and better for others.

A single mother who was homeless found hope with Primavera.

Crystal, who asked for her last name to not be identified, was spotted sitting on a bed with her seven-year-old daughter with a set of flashcards. She said preparing her for school.

"What's this one? Six minus four?," she asked her daughter.

Up until a few weeks ago, Crystal, her daughter and her roommate were evicted from their apartment.

Crystal sent her daughter to stay with a friend while she tried to figure out what they were going to do. While her roommate disappeared, Crystal said her concern was her child.

Fighting back tears, she told the Digging Deeper team, "she is the best kid ever, and deserves so much and to think, I couldn't provide for her scared the crap out of me."

Her daughter developed a sore throat. With the coronavirus pandemic a prominent concern in the area. She said she immediately took her to the emergency room. It was there where she came across Primavera.

They placed her in one of the hotels that the city is using to house the homeless during this pandemic.

"Thanks to everyone here in this hotel and everything, we have a safe place to sleep, and food, and clothes on our backs," Crystal said. "Now, we can get a new place and start over."

Crystal and her daughter are in one of several hotels being paid for by CARES Act funding directed to house the most vulnerable of the homeless population.

"We have a little about over 300 rooms that we have for this project," said Liz Morales, the housing and community development director for the City of Tucson. "They are pretty much at capacity."

Morales said it has been a coordinated effort with the county, costing about $1.4 million a month to house, feed and provide transportation to those in need.

"We are very fortunate to have partners," she said. "Old Pueblo Community Services, and Community Bridges, Catholic Services and Primavera are all helping us with the case management and the shelter oversite."

Primavera, like the other agencies also, provides health care through El Rio clinic.

Kay Wolferstetter who is with Primavera said they also help clients find jobs.

"Primavera is all about pathways out of poverty," Wolferstetter said. "We carry that mission no matter where we go."

Crystal said, had it not been for Primavera and the help she has received, including a new wheelchair, she would probably be on the streets and would've lost her daughter.

"I can't even imagine that," she said.

Now, she said she has hope. Crystal said she feels blessed Primavera was there for her and her daughter.

Officials say this has also been helpful to the local economy as the hotels are able to keep employees working, and the empty rooms filled to help those in need.

One hotel manager said they have received handwritten thank you notes from some of the clients telling them how appreciative they are of the hospitality given to them at the hotel.

The average stay is about 30 days. Then they are placed in more permanent housing.

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Lupita Murillo

Lupita Murillo is an investigative reporter. She is part of the Digging Deeper team that uncovers important issues focusing on crime that affects the community.

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