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  • County partners on Center of Opportunity

    May 22, 2019 | Read More News
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    Pima County is one of dozens of partners who will be helping homeless individuals get a new lease on life at the site of a former hotel.

    Gospel Rescue Mission will operate the Center of Opportunity, 4550 S. Palo Verde Road, on a $1 annual lease after the H.S. Lopez Family Foundation purchased the property with the intent of converting it into “one-stop shop” to serve homeless.

    “My hope is, over the years, thousands will go through these doors,” Humberto Lopez, the foundation’s founder, said at a May 17 building dedication featuring Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and several other local officials. “So they better not break the lease,” he said to laughter from the crowd of about 200.

    Staff is planning to open the doors June 3 at the 150,000-square-foot hotel and conference center. The site features a full-service kitchen capable of serving up to 3,000 meals a day and an 8,900-square-foot banquet hall that will serve as the new men’s shelter. 

    About 30 state, local and county organizations came together to give birth to the center, what the Arizona governor called, “a gateway for opportunity for all who enter here.”

    “What you’re doing here is going to transform lives for years to come,” Ducey said.
    Gov. Doug Ducey
    County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry hopes the center will reduce recidivism of homeless people in local jails. He pointed to one local man who had been arrested more than 60 times in two years for stealing hot dogs and burritos from a convenience store.

    “We need to get the homeless out of the criminal justice system where they do not belong,” Huckelberry said.

    Re-entry assistance for former inmates is one of several services the Center of Opportunity will provide. Homeless guests staying at the center also can expect to receive:
    • Healthcare
    • Dental services
    • Behavioral health
    • Veterans services
    • Government assistance
    • Affordable housing
    • Workforce development
    • Employment services
    The County’s Sullivan-Jackson Employment Center, which since 1986 had worked with homeless job-seekers and is part of the ARIZONA@WORK Pima County One-Stop Career Centers, will offer clients a one- to two-hour introduction to services once or twice a week at the Center. This includes 20- to 40-hour employability workshops that may be offered to up to 20 individuals two weeks per month.

    District 2 Supervisor Ramón Valadez observed that Tucson and Pima County have long been known as places of “healing, renewal and reform.” He believes that spirit of cooperation permeates the Center of Opportunity.

    “A center like this only works because of all these partnerships. We not only take care of our own, we welcome others.”