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Hospitality House turns 1-year-old

Posted at 5:57 PM, Mar 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-02 21:06:20-05

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Wednesday marks one year since the new Salvation Army Hospitality House opened it's doors in Tucson.

The $7.5 million dollar project took nearly 20 years to fund, mostly through donations. The previous house was about 50 years old before they tore it down. Since the new one opened, it's helped more than 2,200 people, distributed 600 items of clothing, and served more than 57,000 meals.

Among those using the house is Dennis Medaris. He has had health problems in the past which left him unable to work and he burned through all his savings.

"I had never been in a homeless shelter before," he said.

A handful of other men were waiting to check into the hospitality house as Nine On Your Side toured through this week with Shawna Kroh, a spokesperson for Salvation Army. 

"This is the men's dorm, this is their lounging area, they have a TV, computer, and phone," said Kroh.

Each client must pass a breathalyzer test before checking in to make sure they are not using drugs or alcohol. Also, they will turn in their camera phones and medication before entering, then pick up a blanket, pillow, and hygiene products.

For men, there are 50 regular beds, eight transitional beds, and 12 beds specifically for veterans.

"With the issues some of them may face with PTSD and certain things, they sometimes need their own privacy," said Kroh. Veteran beds have short walls to separate them from each other.

There are also two separate family apartments with their own bathroom, small kitchen, laundry, and bedrooms.

"This way families can be here and not be separated," said Kroh.

At the Hospitality House, they feed 80 to 100 people per day and serve breakfast and dinner. Most of the food they cook is donated. While Nine On Your Side was there the chef was cooking barbecue ribs.

Medaris says there are strict rules for those who stay at the house especially with regards to drugs and alcohol, but it is worth it.

"It's a lot better than sleeping on concrete," he said.