Bill To Allocate $5M For Homeless Seniors Moves Through AZ Legislature
Last year a bill that would have funded a permanent shelter for people 55 and older was put on pause because of the coronavirus. The bill is back with plenty of bipartisan support, and it’s once again making its way through the Arizona Legislature.
A year ago, Lisa Glow, executive director for the Central Arizona Shelter Services, stood outside the state Senate building waiting to testify about a bill that would create a shelter for homeless seniors in the West Valley.
"And all indications where it would have passed," she said.
Then COVID-19 happened. The bill was again introduced this year by Republican Sen. David Livingston. There are 52 Democratic and Republican co-sponsors. Glow is feeling hopeful.
"Because we know seniors need a different kind of safe shelter and support. And we've been doing that with CARES ACT funding for project Haven. SB 1514 gives us the opportunity to really make something significant, a true silver lining out of this pandemic for our senior citizens," Glow said.
Project Haven opened last summer for people considered most at risk for COVID-19. Glow says SB 1514 would appropriate roughly $5 million. The timing could not come at a better time. Glow says there has been an uptick in homeless seniors. And some pay with their life.
"Last year in Maricopa County, and this is something people need to know, is there was a dramatic increase in the number of people who died on the streets," she said. "Nearly 600 people, and 30% of them were over the age of 55. We simply do not have enough options for them.
Glow says it is looking at different sites in the West Valley and will resemble Project Haven a hotel for seniors 55 and older who are at high risk of contracting COVID-19 and dying from it.