KINGMAN – Some citizens are expressing concern as Catholic Charities of Arizona plans to renovate a dilapidated motel property to operate as a transitional housing facility in Kingman. The organization secured a $4.5-million grant to purchase and rehabilitate the Route 66 Motel located at 2939 E. Andy Devine Avenue for its Housing for Hope Joshua Tree program for those experiencing extreme poverty and homelessness.

“Housing insecurity has grown considerably in recent years, in particular in rural northern Arizona communities,” Housing for Hope Executive Director Steve Capobres, said in a news release. “In response to that crisis, we are placing an increased emphasis on more underserved populations in the state.”

Catholic Charities intends to use the grant to upgrade the property and the balance of the funds to operate going forward. Spokeswoman Jean Christopherson said the 10,054 sq. ft. building will be remodeled to provide living space for up to 26 clients.

Some living in the residential community commonly called “the maze”, just west of the motel, question that the project is a good fit for the area, particularly since the subject property is only roughly 75 yards from Manzanita Elementary School on Detroit Ave.

“My house is located directly behind the motel. There are school children that walk to and from school behind this place,” Dianna Hawes told city council members during their Nov. 7 meeting. 

“It’s okay to have something like this in Kingman, but maybe not so close to a school,” agreed Ron Jewett. “I don’t want to bad mouth Catholic Charities but that’s a bad location as far as I’m concerned.”

Superintendent Gretchen Dorner said the governing board has not considered taking a position on the project but said Kingman Unified School District officials are interested in learning answers to various community concerns.

Catholic Charities will be hosting a neighborhood meeting to provide information and answer questions on Monday, Nov. 27. Christopherson says the forum may provide clarity as some opposition may be based on misinformation.

Christopherson said the transitional housing program will be structured and regimented and will use client screening and case management personnel to minimize problems. She said it will not likely generate transient traffic looking for overnight lodging.

“It is not a homeless shelter and there are wraparound services for those who go through the intake process and work with case managers to take all the steps they need in order to gain stability and overcome barriers keeping them from being self-sufficient and independent,” she said. “The project is in no way a shelter.”

Vice Mayor Cherish Sammelli wants to learn more about the program.

“I am in evaluation mode. I will be at the neighborhood meeting … I have some questions of my own to ask of the Catholic Charities folks,” Sammelli said. “Are they going to be bringing in people from other communities for this transitional housing? How do they vet these individuals? How long do they stay?”

Sammelli said security provisions and other questions must also be answered.

Those who wish to stop or kill the project may not be able to do so. City Attorney Carl Cooper said the property that is zoned C-3 and compatible with use as a motel or for transitional housing.

“We’ve done everything to research this,” interim city manager Grady Miller told council members. “We don’t see anything that our zoning would preclude this from happening.”

The Nov. 27 neighborhood meeting is set to start at 6 p.m., in the Manzanita Elementary School gymnasium, 2601 Detroit Ave.