Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed into law on June 21 an $18 billion bipartisan state budget that includes $60 million to fund Arizona’s Housing Trust Fund (HTF). This investment in housing for low-income households comes at a critical time, as Arizona has witnessed especially high rent increases over the last two years, with the metro Phoenix area leading the nation in rent increases in 2021. The new HTF dollars will fund affordable housing developments, rural housing programs, and affordable housing programs for tribal nations and will support programs such as rental assistance and foreclosure and eviction prevention, as well as other emergency housing needs.
Arizona’s HTF is the most flexible funding source for the Arizona Department of Housing. The HTF allows the state to utilize federal housing funds by providing match and leverage resources. Eligible uses of the HTF include the development of affordable housing and housing assistance programs to fill gaps where federal resources do not exist. These housing assistance programs include homeless shelters, transitional housing, eviction prevention, rapid rehousing, and other resources.
Arizona lawmakers are embracing the state housing trust fund as a way to address the rising rate of street homelessness and to help households being priced out of the market. Meanwhile, business groups like Greater Phoenix Leadership and Phoenix Community Alliance, as well as NLIHC member agencies, have joined the chorus to ask for on-going appropriations to the fund. Advocates also called on Arizona Governor Ducey to match the amount of funding provided by state legislators by using funds from his discretionary American Rescue Plan Act in order to have a greater impact.
Prior to this legislation, the state’s HTF was funded through the sale of unclaimed property. However, in 2010, cutbacks led to an annual cap of $2.5 million on funding for the HTF. The HTF received its highest allocation in 2007, at $40 million, and more than a decade later, during the 2019 legislative session, the Fund received a one-time investment of $15 million. Even so, this one-time investment was still not enough to bring funds up to required levels, according to advocacy groups like the Arizona Housing Coalition, an NLIHC state partner. The Coalition played an instrumental role in ensuring that the Fund was provided $60 million this year to help address the need for at least 270,000 more homes in Arizona.
“Arizona’s political will to pass this funding demonstrates that housing is a nonpartisan issue,” said Joan Serviss, executive director with the Arizona Housing Coalition. “This bipartisan investment is critical for all Arizonans getting priced out of their homes.”
For questions about Arizona’s state budget and how to get involved in statewide advocacy efforts in the state, contact Joan Serviss at [email protected].