Innovative Scottsdale venture one of first in nation to focus solely on building new ‘attainable’ rental housing

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Arizona’s 2019 Teacher of The Year says Greenlight Communities is addressing a nationwide crisis plaguing many communities across the country

(SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.) Scottsdale-based apartment developer, Greenlight Communities is tackling what few, if any are doing across the country, let alone in Arizona. And they may help resolve our emerging state and national crisis. The company’s effort is also gaining acclaim from a top voice in the state as well. 

The innovative new venture by the principals of Deco Communities is solving a major problem that is facing many communities; building attainable rental housing. Housing affordability is both a nationally and locally recognized problem. In Phoenix, two out of every four renters are either moderately or severely rent burdened and, as rents in increase on a faster pace than wages, the problem is getting worse. According to a report on cassaz.orgPhoenix has earned a reputation as one of the worst cities in the country for renters and Phoenix’s affordable housing crisis will not end until more resources are invested into developing more affordable housing.

Using cutting-edge industry research, modern design and technological advancements in construction and operations, Greenlight’s new Cabana apartment brand will provide studio, one and two-bedroom units in well-located communities throughout 

Phoenix, Mesa, Tempe, Goodyear, Scottsdale and Chandler. The Cabana locations will be able to offer monthly rents $300-$500 per unit less than the exploding proliferation of luxury apartment projects that have been built throughout the Valley.With more than $150 million in capital raised, Greenlight is currently under construction on four projects in the Phoenix metro area and has several more sites in escrow and under development. No taxpayer dollars or government programs are involved.

The first project, Cabana Washington, will consist of 226 units and is currently under construction. The $32 million project will starting leasing in January and open in April 2020. The second project, Cabana 12th, with 252 units, is also under construction and will also start leasing in January, with first move-ins in April 2020.

“We want to provide teachers, health-care workers, first responders and every Arizonan earning a working wage, a home that they can afford in a community they love,” said Patricia Watts, co-founder of Greenlight Communities. “When we looked at what is truly affordable, or in our new vernacular, ‘attainable’ in the market right now, the product simply does not exist.

At Greenlight we have figured out how to simplify and streamline the building costs so we could build quicker, smarter project that gives residents the space and amenities they want by eliminating the expensive extras.”

Kareem Neal

Arizona’s 2019 Teacher of the Year, Kareem Neal, says Greenlight Communities is solving a national crisis that personally plagued him for more than two decades.

Neal, one of the top leaders in his field has been teaching special education at Maryvale High School in Phoenix for 23 years. Even working a second job, Neal says finding attainable rental housing on his teacher’s salary has been a huge financial burden. Only after 23 years of struggling to make high rent payments was Neal able to save up enough money to put a down payment on a condo for purchase. His current monthly mortgage is $1600 a month and it is equivalent to what he was last paying in high rent fees for a one-bedroom condo.

“For 23 years I’ve worked two jobs and struggled to pay increasingly high rents for a one bedroom apartment,” said Neal. “Greenlight Communities is doing what we’ve needed developers and others in the country to do for a long time. Finally we have a company who’s willing to serve the great middle class and build attractive attainable rental housing that most of us would be proud to live in and call home. Greenlight will be able to serve thousands of hard working professionals just like myself who are trying to live and survive on a teacher’s salary without government assistance.” 

The company said too much available housing is now focused on the higher or lower end leaving a gaping hole for the middle class. Cities across America are grappling with this dynamic.Watts, alongside partner Rob Lyles and Dan Richards co-founded Greenlight Communities. Lyles Watts, and Richards, also founded its affiliates, Deco Communities and Starpointe Communities.

All three have been extensively involved in real estate in metro Phoenix since 1996.Watts says studies have been done out of Harvard and other major institutions about the lack of workforce housing but up until now the private sector has been unable to create viable solutions that do not rely on public funding via tax credits or other incentives, or low-income financing programs.“95-percent of the product that is being built right now in the apartment rental space can only be enjoyed by individuals or couples making at least $60,000 per year, and that’s simply not affordable for many people out there right now,” said Lyles. “Our Cabana Communities are going to change the game when it comes to the new category of attainable housing.”

In Greenlight’s model all the communities are designed with individual buildings centered around large common courtyards, that feature either pools, Zen gardens, outdoor fitness areas, and other amenities designed to encourage community interaction.  Greenlight owns its own construction company and employs all the contractors so there is no middle man in the building process. In the end it creates a more efficient building process which means the savings can be passed down to the renter who can rent a brand new apartment for as little as $830 a month.

More groundbreaking announcements will be coming in the months ahead but for now to get more information about Greenlight please visit or call (480) 609-6779 ext. 107.For media inquiries please contact Jennifer Sturgeon at (480) 495-3806 or by email

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