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Temporary emergency shelter for homeless adults over 55 opens its doors in Phoenix

Coverage of aging is supported in part by AARP Arizona

On Oct. 25, a new temporary emergency opened its doors for homeless senior citizens in Phoenix. The next morning, residents were still arriving and getting settled.

Michael Genaldi, 58, waited for a car to take him to a pharmacy.

“We're all elderly. This is what they call a retirement motel for us. So anybody 55 and older,” he said.

Genaldi stood outside of what is being called the Haven on McDowell. It’s a temporary emergency shelter for 60 older adults. 

“This place is amazing! Oh, my own room, everything is fantastic,” he said

Genaldi had been at CASS, the county’s largest shelter, following a motorcycle accident and job loss. Now he’s dealing with a cancer diagnosis. 

“And so this is a much better place for him than being with 440 other people in a mass shelter,” he said.

Lisa Glow is the CEO of CASS. She said for clients like Genaldi, a place like this makes sense. That’s especially true for those with mild cognitive impairment or dementia. But even this Haven may not be sufficient for those clients, she said. 

“So, we're trying to find a more appropriate placement for them,” Glow said. “There are dementia care facilities, really hard to get our folks into that some of them are too costly. We have people who can't take care of some of their basic needs who are here, which is why we need to get those folks into nursing homes.”

In the meantime, she said moving them to a place where they have their own room is a better solution than staying with several hundred people.

KJZZ senior field correspondent Kathy Ritchie has 20 years of experience reporting and writing stories for national and local media outlets — nearly a decade of it has been spent in public media.