PHOENIX – Two Arizona legislators introduced a bipartisan bill Wednesday that would address the state’s housing crisis by increasing construction of affordable homes and providing aid to the homeless.
House Bill 2674 would make it easier to build affordable homes more quickly by streamlining the building process and simplifying zoning laws, said state Reps. César Chávez, D-Phoenix, and Steve Kaiser, R-Phoenix.
The bill also would provide $89 million to the Arizona Housing Trust Fund for grants to cities and organizations that are helping people recently experiencing homelessness to recover housing. Some money would go to building shelters as well.
Chávez and Kaiser co-sponsored HB 2674, stressing their bipartisan cooperation for solving one of the state’s most pressing problems.
“The state right now is facing a housing crisis, and we need a statewide response to this crisis,” Kaiser said. “The demand for housing has never been higher. Occupancy rates are at 98%, which is a 40-year high.”
Maricopa County agencies push to spend federal relief funds on affordable housing
According to the Census Bureau, Phoenix grew more than any other major city from 2010 to 2020, at a rate of 11.2%. A 2020 report by Phoenix found that the city’s median household income increased 10%, while the median price of a home increased by 57% from 2010 to 2018.
Statewide, average home prices have increased 31% in just the past year, according to the online real-estate tracker Zillow.
Meanwhile, rents are also at a record high, increasing 14% to 20% around the state, depending on ZIP code, according to Zillow.
Kaiser said about 270,000 homes need to be built in the state just to keep up with Arizona’s rapid population growth.
The bill, which still needs to pass the House and Senate before being signed into law, would encourage higher-density projects and free up land zoned for other purposes to build housing.
Cronkite News reached out by phone to the Arizona Coalition to End Homelessness and the Human Services Campus for comment but did not hear back.
AUTHOR: Brenda Muñoz Murguia