Hearing Scheduled For Tuesday Is Next Step Toward Migrant Shelter

Published: Monday, July 1, 2019 - 2:06pm
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Humanitarian aid groups helping migrant families dropped off in Phoenix could take a big step Tuesday toward opening an overnight shelter, but the groups are still at least one week away from housing migrants at the Ann Ott School.

Documents say the unused Ann Ott School has enough room to serve between 100 and 300 migrants a day.

Before it can happen, aid groups need a use permit and a variance on road access from the city of Phoenix. 

“But that’s always a challenge. A variance is a very technical thing. And we’ve got to be on our A-game in order to get that done,” said attorney Paul E. Gilbert, who represents a coalition trying to transform Ann Ott School into a shelter.

If the coalition is successful during Tuesday’s public hearing, anyone against the shelter can file an appeal within 15 days. Gilbert said he will seek a different permit to occupy the Ann Ott School sooner.

“And the city has seemed receptive to consider that request,” he said.

The Ann Ott School has not yet met city code, but Gilbert estimated it happening in about a week.

“There have been some anticipated expenses,” he said.

The Ann Ott School has not had students in more than a decade. Phoenix Elementary School District No. 1 spends about $95,000 a year to maintain the building, according to a spokesperson.

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