Pinal County residents, even those with decent-paying jobs, are struggling to find affordable housing, officials say.
To help determine what can be done about the situation, the county is embarking on a nearly $55,000 study to assess the need for affordable housing, from rentals to single-family home purchases.
“In Pinal County, some of our work force can’t afford to purchase homes, or even pay rents in some areas,” Pinal County housing director Adeline Allen said. “Nurses, firefighters, police officers, detention officers, teachers, the working force that’s not minimum wage, some of them cannot afford to be homeowners.”
According to an Arizona Department of Housing study, Pinal County residents working in retail sales or in a restaurant made an average of $9.72 an hour. But $14.35 an hour is the wage needed to rent a twobedroom apartment.
The same study showed the median home value in Pinal County rose nearly 76 percent between 1990 and 2000. In those same years, the household income increased only 68 percent.
Last Wednesday, the Pinal County Board of Supervisors approved a contract with Kuehl Enterprises to conduct a study of the housing situation and give recommendations on how to make housing affordable to everyone in the county.
The lion’s share of the funding will come from a state housing department grant for $50,000 with $5,000 being paid for by the county.
A series of three open houses will be used to share information and collect feedback from residents, real estate agents, local politicians, developers and economic development leaders.
The consultant is expected to have the study completed next March. The information will be used in the housing component of the Pinal County Comprehensive Plan due out in 2008, Allen said.
“It’s probably not totally out of hand just yet,” Allen said of the affordable housing issue. “But it could get there pretty quickly.”
She said the study will help.
“We invited all of the cities and towns within Pinal County to send a representative so we can make this a truly regional study — not just for the county,” Allen said.
If you go
Two open houses about Pinal County affordable housing:
• 3 p.m.-5 p.m. June 21 at the Apache Junction City Council chambers, 300 E. Superstition Blvd., Apache Junction.
• Noon-4 p.m. July 20 at the Casa Grande City Council chambers, 510 E. Florence Blvd., Casa Grande.