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Route 66 News

The saint of ANEW Living

Lori Barlow

Nearly a year ago, we reported about ANEW Living, which was converting a run-down Route 66 motel in Flagstaff, Arizona, into temporary, affordable rental housing to those who are homeless.

The former 66 Motel offers single rooms or studios for $600 to $800 a month, with a $10-a-month fee for Internet. More about ANEW’s mission:

ANEW Living offers a unique approach to meeting the housing needs our our community by converting older distressed motels into affordable housing alternatives. The rooms and small apartments available at ANEW Living are offered as a step up from the traditional transitional housing facilities while continuing to provide on-site services geared towards renewing and restoring hope to individuals and families seeking to end their cycle of homelessness and build pathways to a healthy productive lifestyle promoting self-sufficiency.

KJZZ/Fronteras Desk recently did a more detailed story for public radio about ANEW Living’s remarkable executive director:

Lori Barlow, a former financial planner, is giving the old motel new life. A spirited blonde who’s starting her own new chapter, Barlow gave up a six-figure salary and a home on the California coast to help people.

But she wasn’t sure how to go about it until one night inspiration struck.

“I think it was 3:36 actually,” Barlow recalled. “I woke up and sat up in my bed and this clear message just came and said, ‘You need to go take over distressed motels and turn them into transitional housing to help the poor.’ I just thought, ‘OK, what do I do with that?’”

Barlow said after arriving in Flagstaff, she was motivated to help the working poor because housing is so expensive there. Many who lived at the emergency shelter in town had jobs, but still could not afford a place to stay. ANEW reports Flagstaff has a waiting list for low-income or subsidized housing.

As an example, the cost of housing in Flagstaff is 167 percent more expensive than inj Joplin, Missouri. Flagstaff in general is 44 percent more expensive to live in than Joplin. Flagstaff not a good place for a poor person.

About 50 people live in ANEW Living Community now. Many were down on their luck — illness or disability seems a common thread. A few of them do maintenance on the motel in exchange for housing. Once they move into ANEW, they have two years to transition into traditional housing.

Barlow provides classes and meetings on financial literacy, job interviews, interpersonal skills, coping from loss or trauma, healthy lifestyles, cooking on a budget and computer skills.

To continue renovating the motel’s rooms, ANEW Living needs the following:

  • Wire shelving to mount near ceiling for extra storage
  • Compact cooking set up
  • Shower enclosure
  • Sheets of 3/4″ plywood
  • Sheets of green board (bathroom drywall)
  • 2×4 planks of wood

You also can make donations through ANEW’s website.

Here’s a segment about ANEW Living on NPR’s “All Things Considered”:

ANEW Living also has a Facebook page here.

(Image of Lori Barlow by Laurel Morales via KJZZ)

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