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Prop 422 Would Issue $25 Million in Bonds Aimed at Easing Affordable Housing Crunch

The Truth About Mortgage/

There’s one fact that those on both sides of Proposition 422 can agree on: housing in Flagstaff can be difficult for the area’s workforce to afford.

The proposition would allow the City of Flagstaff to issue $25 million in bonds with the express condition that the money be used to help area residents afford a place to live.

The wording of the proposition says money could be spent on “construction, rehabilitation, redevelopment and acquisition of land.”

It also says an acceptable use would be “for the purpose of assisting more Flagstaff residents to afford housing by making loans and grants.”

If passed, a committee would be created, and it would advise the City Council on use of the $25 million.

“We’ve had smaller successes in our community, and we have a history of doing this well,” says Devonna McLaughlin, CEO of Housing Solutions of Northern Arizona. “We just need to put it to a larger scale.”

McLaughlin says one example is federal funds that are used for down payment assistance. That program, however, only allows participants to make up to 80 percent of the area’s median income. She says local housing is expensive enough that it leaves a gap between those who earn enough to afford a home and those who qualify for assistance.

“The bond funds will help meet that gap. So somebody at 100 percent of the area median income could get assistance to purchase a home, and have that be in the form of a loan paid back over time. So it just helps our workforce in a broader sense.”

Opponents of Prop 422 do not take umbrage with the idea that housing in Flagstaff has affordability issues.

“We do the quarterly cost-of-living surveys, which regularly confirm Flagstaff’s housing costs can reach 40% higher than the national average,” said a statement from the Flagstaff Metro Chamber of Commerce, which opposes 422. Officials with the group declined an interview.

“Asking voters to write a blank check to the Mayor and City Council for $25M for housing is not responsible fiscal policy; absent any clear parameters on how the bond money will be spent. It’s just bad policy,” the statement said.

The bond money will be repaid via a 20-year property tax that would increase the tax rate on a home of average value in Flagstaff by about $47 per year, according to Flagstaff’s election information pamphlet.

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