The Arizona Housing Alliance (AHA), an NLIHC state coalition partner, along with the Arizona Coalition to End Homelessness (AZCEH), and the Valley of the Sun United Way (VSUW) launched a campaign to prevent the termination of the Arizona Department of Housing (ADOH), set to occur in July 2012. Advocates hope their efforts will build support for continued operation of ADOH for another 10 years.
Earlier this year, ADOH, an NLIHC member, underwent its first sunset review, a process requiring the state legislature to review the purpose and function of state agencies every 10 years to determine whether continuation, revision, consolidation or termination is warranted. Sunset reviews are based on audits conducted by the state’s Office of the Auditor General (OAG) or a Committee of Reference (COR). Following the audit, a public hearing is held by the COR to discuss the audit and receive testimony from agency officials and the public.
ADOH’s audit, conducted by OAG, found that programs managed by the department, such as the low income housing tax credit, community development block grant, and home purchase assistance programs have increased affordable housing opportunities and improved community services across the state. Legislation recommending the continuance of ADOH passed the House; however, the bill was held up in the Senate by then-Senate President Russell Pearce (R). In the final state budget Governor Jan Brewer (R) included language requiring ADOH be continued for another year and its operations revisited in the next legislative session.
Advocates developed an education campaign to inform the public and legislators on the purpose of ADOH, the positive impact of its programs on the state, and why it is still relevant. An advocacy toolkit located on AHA’s website includes housing fact sheets that provide advocates with state-level information in an easily-accessible format. AZCEH’s website allows advocates to sign a petition in support of the campaign.
In the fact sheet titled, “What is Affordable Housing?” the campaign connects affordable housing to economic stability. Advocates note that building 100 new LIHTC units can lead to the creation of more than 120 jobs. Additionally, advocates point out that stable and affordable housing improves mental health and development, and families, especially those with children and veteran households, are less likely to move, allowing communities to grow economically.
Another fact sheet describes the state’s rental housing challenges. According to AHA, deterioration, abandonment, and conversion to market housing put Arizona at risk of losing almost 8,000 existing federally subsidized apartments, nearly half of which are in rural communities. Expiring contracts and a lack of resources make it difficult to preserve these community assets. Advocates say that without the ADOH, the problem will be exacerbated.
The advocacy toolkit also provides constituents the ability to download lists of ADOH-managed affordable housing projects for their legislative or congressional district.
Advocates anticipate less Senate opposition in the next legislative session due to the recall of Senator Pearce in November. Senator Al Melvin (R) will introduce a continuation bill in the next legislative session. Support is expected from the new Senate president, Senator Steve Pierce (R).
“The private housing market alone cannot address the housing needs of Arizona’s low income families and seniors, people who are homeless, and households experiencing foreclosure,” said Val Iverson, Executive Director of AHA. “A partnership of the Department of Housing and the private sector is needed to ensure every Arizonan has a safe, decent, and affordable home.”
To view the advocacy toolkit, visit www.azhousingalliance.org/advocacy.
For more information, contact Val Iverson, Executive Director, Arizona Housing Alliance, at firstname.lastname@example.org.