Open Inn has been on the front lines provide shelter, transitional housing, and a wide array of support services to Arizona’s homeless and at-risk youth, and their families, for more than three decades. Founded in 1974 by a committed group of youth and adult allies, Open Inn opened Arizona’s first shelter for runaway and homeless youth in its first year of operation.

This sparked a tradition of bold and innovative programming development by the organization. Since its inception, Open Inn has been on the leading edge of community needs and has developed unique programs and services to address these needs and improve quality of life for youth and families. In 1995, Open Inn opened Arizona’s first assessment center for status offenders, diverting these vulnerable young people from the juvenile justice system.

Today, Open Inn is among only a handful of organizations across the nation that has committed to providing specialized and comprehensive housing services for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth.

Today, Open Inn provides a full continuum of independent living services in seven of fifteen Arizona counties. Included in these services are street outreach programs, four transitional apartment living programs, six scattered site independent living programs and life skills training for all programs.

With more than 30 years experience serving our communities, Open Inn is a leading voice for youth and families in Arizona. The timeline below highlights just a few of the important milestones in Open Inn’s history of service.


  • 1974 - Open Inn founded.
  • 1974 - Open Inn opens shelter for runaway and homeless youth in Tucson  - Tucson Shelters - the State’s first shelter of its kind.
  • 1978 - Open Inn receives first Federal grant to provide shelter for runaway and homeless youth in Tucson - Tucson Shelters.
  • 1981 - Cochise County Children’s Center opens in Huachuca City, AZ providing shelter and support for children and youth from ages birth to 17 y.o.
  • 1989 - Transitional Apartment Living Program opens doors to provide transitional housing for youth who can not return home.
  • 1995 - Open Inn opens the Center for Juvenile Alternatives diverting status offending youth from the juvenile justice system.
  • 1995 - Open Inn launches Street Outreach Program targeting homeless youth living on the streets or in other dangerous environments in Pima and Yavapai Counties.
  • 1998 - Cochise County Children’s Center highlighted by the Department of Health and Human Services in Compendium of Critical Issues and Innovative Approach in Youth Services.
  • 2001 - Open Inn’s Independent Living Programs highlighted as a model program in Moving In : Ten Successful Independent/Transitional Living Programs.
  • 2004 - Open Inn celebrates 30th Anniversary and holds the organization’s first Annual Luncheon in October.
  • 2005 - Open Inn launches the nationally-recognized Project Safe Place program in Pima County. Project expansion into Southeastern Arizona begins within the next year.
  • 2005 - Nancy Panico is appointed to serve as Open Inn’s Executive Director.
  • 2006 - Nancy Panico receives prestigious Administrator of the Year Award from YMCA National Safe Place at bi-annual National Safe Place conference in Louisville, Kentucky. SunTran is also recognized for their contribution and dedication to Open Inn’s Project Safe Place program.
  • 2006 - Open Inn opens drop-in Youth Resource Center in Tucson to provide basic needs, educational supports, and case management for homeless youth.
  • 2007 - Open Inn receives Compassion Capital Funding to expand organizational infrastructure and assure a strong financial future for the organization.
  • 2007 - Open Inn launches Domestic Violence Resource Center in response to the growing need for services to prevent DV among young offenders.
  • 2008 - Open Inn awarded Transitional Living Program grant from the Dept. of Health and Human Services to provide transitional housing for youth and young adults Statewide.
  • 2008 - Open Inn receives Street Outreach Program grant from the US Dept. of Health & Human Services to implement street outreach progrms for homeless  youth in Cochise, Coconino, Graham, Greenlee, and Santa Cruz Counties.