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State legislation aims to tamp down affordable housing crisis in Arizona

AP Photo/Anita Snow
Michael Warner, 61, who says he has been living on the streets for three years, talks about his situation during a one-day count of homeless individuals in Phoenix on Jan. 25, 2022. Warner said he lost his job as a quality control manager, then the home he was renting, after suffering two strokes and now cannot afford a place to live on his disability income. Authorities say the count showed the number of homeless people in Maricopa County, Arizona's largest, surged 35% over two years amid a housing crisis and economic hardship caused by the coronavirus pandemic. A report released by the Maricopa Association of Governments says that 5,029 people in the county, including 3,096 people in Phoenix, experienced homelessness in unsheltered situations the night of Jan. 25.

Democrats in the Arizona Legislature have introduced a bill to combat the state’s affordable housing crisis.

Senator Catherine Miranda and Representative Lydia Hernandez have sponsored measures that would create a statewide eviction diversion and prevention program and launch an effort to renovate vacant commercial and state-owned spaces to use for affordable housing.

It would also create a bill of rights for those experiencing homelessness and fund a grant program for towns, cities and Indigenous communities to find housing and mental health and substance abuse services for unsheltered people.

A recent study from the National Low Income Housing Coalition showed Arizona is one of the worst states in the nation for affordable housing and has some of the highest inflation rates in the country.