Jun 24, 2022 - News

Arizona will spend $60 million on new housing assistance programs

Illustration of a hand placing a quarter into a house chimney

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The state legislature committed an unprecedented $60 million to the Arizona Housing Trust Fund as part of this year's $15.8 billion budget, which passed Thursday.

  • The money will be used to develop affordable housing and support other housing and homelessness programs.
  • $20 million will go toward rural projects and $4 million total will be distributed to the Navajo and Hopi tribal nations.

Why it matters: Arizona has just 26 affordable and available rental homes per 100 extremely low-income renter households, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

Flashback: The Housing Trust Fund was established in 1989 and financed with revenue received from the sale of unclaimed property — topping out at $40 million in 2007.

  • During the Great Recession, the legislature put that money toward other programs and later capped the annual revenue at $2.5 million.
  • The state has since made additional deposits, but they've never come close to the pre-recession level until now.

What they're saying: "The most we got was $15 million a year or two ago so, $60 million? Heck, yeah. Let's go," Joan Serviss, executive director of the Arizona Housing Coalition, tells Axios.

The state had about a $5 billion surplus because tax revenue outpaced expectations, which allowed for more spending on social services than the legislature typically entertains.

Yes, but: The housing trust fund allocation was still short of the $100 million initial request from supporters.

What we're watching: Central Arizona Shelter Services CEO Lisa Glow tells Axios that advocates will ask Gov. Doug Ducey to deposit another $60 million of federal pandemic relief funds into the Housing Trust Fund.

Of note: The legislature also allocated additional funding for homelessness services.

  • $10 million in grants for cities or towns to establish work programs for people experiencing homelessness.
  • $10 million for transitional housing for youth aging out of foster care.
  • $3 million for veteran housing at Fort Whipple in Prescott.
  • $500,000 for programs to assist pregnant women experiencing homelessness.

The big picture: This significant investment in housing and homelessness services comes as the Valley sees record home and rental prices and a growing homeless population.

  • "This is an acknowledgment in a bipartisan budget that we have got to take action on housing and homelessness," Glow says.

What's next: Ducey is expected to sign the budget into law.


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