How legislative candidates plan to fix affordable housing crisis

By Juliette Rihl | Arizona Republic

Arizona is in need of 270,000 more housing units to meet demand, according to the Arizona Department of Housing. And Phoenix-area rents jumped almost 30% in 2021, pricing out many low-income residents.

Arizonans say they want elected officials to take action.

According to an August voter survey by the Center for the Future of Arizona, 80% of voters from across the political spectrum agreed that housing costs are “out of control.” Nearly as many agreed that “Arizona must do more to make sure that housing options are affordable and available to middle- and low-income earners throughout the state.”

Yet there are multiple state-level barriers to creating more affordable housing, including one law that forbids cities from regulating vacation rentals and limiting rent increases. 

The Arizona Republic spoke with candidates in several competitive legislative races about how they plan to address the housing crisis if elected. 

While candidates on both sides of the aisle agreed on the importance of building more housing and beefing up the state’s Housing Trust Fund, their views diverged when it came to regulating vacation rentals.

Build more housing

Candidates in both parties agreed: Arizona needs more housing.

“You have to keep building. And you have to build multi-family [homes],” said State Rep. Steve Kaiser, who is running for State Senate in north Phoenix’s Legislative District 2. Kaiser co-chairs the state’s Housing Supply Study Committee.

He plans to draft new legislation on policy solutions identified by the study committee, which will release its report by the end of the year. Fixes could include streamlining municipal processes to allow developers to build faster and with fewer pricey design standards, Kaiser said. In the study committee, elected officials, housing advocates and developers have discussed how long wait times for building permits and strict design requirements, such as requiring homes to have garages, drive up the cost of housing.

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