PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — Help is on the way to address the affordable housing crisis in Arizona, but many can’t wait for new apartments to be built.
Antonio Clay is a single dad, doing the best he can, but it’s not easy. Clay has a full-time job as an auto technician, but he doesn’t have an affordable place to live with his kids.
“If you do find something that’s affordable, it’s not vacant very long,” said Clay. ” Very hard to find anything that’s affordable. Very difficult right now.”
The Phoenix man is like many struggling Arizonans on the verge of living on the streets because of skyrocketing rent prices and a limited supply of affordable apartments.
In an effort to get Clay and other families out of emergency shelters, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors just approved $17 million to be spent on three new affordable housing projects. The new complexes will be located in Central Phoenix and Glendale and will create more than 600 places to live. The only problem is they won’t be ready for another year or two.
Elizabeth Howard is director of supportive services with UMOM New Day Center, a nonprofit that provides emergency housing and other services to people in need. Howard is happy to hear that new affordable units will be built in the future, but what about the crisis now?
“Something needs to happen now because we have people living in a really dangerous way right now; it’s worse than it’s ever been,” said Howard. “It’s really concerning that we’ve got little kids sleeping in cars with families and in parks when we just don’t have enough emergency shelters. We don’t have enough affordable housing, and people are really in bad positions right now.”
Maricopa County plans to convert a hotel off Van Buren Street near downtown Phoenix into a new housing complex that should be up and running a little sooner. But struggling dads like Clay say they need to keep building more.
“We’re going to keep on being persistent looking,” said Clay. “The scariest thing is ending up on the street.”
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AUTHOR: Jason Barry