The lack of affordable housing in the Valley is a growing concern that could ultimately hurt the region’s ability to develop further, a housing expert said Tuesday.
Leaders are looking at ways to address the problem and have formed the Regional Workforce Housing Task Force to develop a plan to provide working families access to housing that requires less than 30 percent of their annual income.
"This is not one community’s problem, this is the region’s problem," Gregg Holmes, task force chairman, said at a Tuesday luncheon sponsored by the Arizona Association for Economic Development.
With the median sales price of an existing home hitting $259,700 for the third quarter of this year Valleywide, a family would have to earn about $45,000 annually to afford the monthly $1,255 mortgage payment, according to figures from the Arizona Real Estate Center at Arizona State Polytechnic.
Holmes said that such appreciating home prices coupled with stagnating incomes have led to Arizona ranking 40th in the nation for homeownership and the state ranking below the national average for seven out of the past 10 years.
Because of that, the task force has identified ways to promote the creation of affordable housing across the region.
They include working with cities to develop codes that would allow more units to be built on a parcel of land, creating flexible design standards and zoning regulations that would support that, adopting an expedited permitting process for affordable housing projects and developing projects along public transit corridors, such as bus and light rail routes.
Formed last June at the request of Gov. Janet Napolitano with the involvement of the Maricopa Association of Governments and the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, the task force’s goal is to develop a 15-year plan to find ways to provide affordable housing for working people, such as teachers, firefighters and lab technicians.
A formal set of recommendations is expected to be unveiled next spring.