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New multi-purpose site planned to help Tucson's homeless
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New multi-purpose site planned to help Tucson's homeless

Server Steve Smailey carries a plate of food to one of the many tables at the 28th annual Gospel Rescue Mission Christmas Street Banquet. Thousands of men, women and children were served a turkey dinner with all the trimmings including stuffing, yams, mashed potatoes, vegetables rolls and pie.

A new one-stop center to help Tucson’s homeless residents is planned to open next year on the site of an old airport Holiday Inn.

The 8-acre property, soon to be called the H.S. Lopez Family Foundation Center of Opportunity, includes a 205-room soon-to-be converted hotel tower.

New buildings are being planned to provide emergency and transitional housing, medical and dental care and screenings, counseling and job training.

The H.S. Lopez Family Foundation purchased the property at 4550 S. Palo Verde Road, and plans include a collaboration between the Gospel Rescue Mission, El Rio Community Health Center and La Frontera Arizona as well as nearly 25 other local nonprofits and providers.

Humberto Lopez, the foundation’s founder, said creating a place where people can get comprehensive help has been one of his long-time goals. He has been a frequent visitor at Gospel Rescue Mission sites, he said, and appreciates their approach.

“One of the reasons I like Gospel Rescue Mission is that they are very clean,” he said. “They treat people with dignity and respect.”

Gospel Rescue Mission, which provides services at several local shelters for men, women and families, has been looking for a new site for its men’s shelter for about a year, said Victor Hightower, spokesman for the agency. This will fulfill that need and will also help expand other services for all homeless people.

Nancy Johnson, the CEO of El Rio, said her agency will include the center as one of its outreach sites, which means it will provide services a couple of times per week and increase that if needed.

If patients need more care than can be provided on-site, they will be referred to other sites.

Lopez said plans include converting the 205 rooms in the old Holiday Inn tower into about 137 apartments for permanent housing. There will also be a park on the property “with plenty of shade.”

Neighbors have been notified, he said, and he has assured them it will be an enclosed campus.

Contact reporter Patty Machelor at or 806-7754. On Twitter: @pattymachstar

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