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Pima County reviews $2 million tab to house asylum-seekers with COVID

The Pima County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will vote on a $2 million contract to house asylum seekers with COVID-19 at a Tucson hotel.

The county Health Department requested funding last month, citing increasing numbers of cases of COVID-19 among people seeking asylum who have been released by federal authorities here. The contract being considered would secure a hotel for housing and monitoring COVID-positive individuals, their families and close contacts for at least the next four months.

In an Aug. 9 memo to County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry, PCHD Director Dr. Theresa Cullen said a stand-alone facility was needed to "limit potential COVID-19 exposure to uninfected individuals, facilitate improved care and case management, and provide necessary and safe housing for individuals that would otherwise be in congregate settings."

Citing the "immediate and critical need" for the facility, a limited competition procurement was issued to three hotels in the Tucson area. Jot Properties, LLC (Red Roof Inn Tucson South-Airport, near Irvington  Road and Alvernon Way) submitted a bid to provide the shelter for an initial four-month term, with an option to extend up to two years, for $2,008,000.

If approved, the hotel would lease all 117 rooms on an exclusive basis to Pima County at a daily rate of $130 per room, per night, and would not rent lodgings to any other customers during the contract period. The county would pay for all rooms regardless of whether they are occupied. The county also would rent other space in the hotel.

According to a memo from the county's Procurement Director Terri Spencer, migrants entering the hotel shelter would be direct referrals from the Casa Alitas Welcome Center, as approved by the Health Department. Funding for the shelter would come from the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

This report was first published by the Green Valley News.


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Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.com

Asylum-seeking families at the Kino Border Initiative in December 2019.