As developers struggle to keep pace with Arizona housing demand, advocates seek solutions

The Arizona Multihousing Association (AMA) has launched a new program called Arizona Housing for All, which will address the regulatory issues at the local, state, and federal levels to combat the supply and demand issues that are driving up rental prices. 

Arizona’s population grew by 100,000 last year, or about 300 new residents per day, putting the total population at more than 7.7 million. This surge in growth was also accompanied by a surge in housing costs. In the Phoenix metropolitan area the median price of a home went up 27% over the previous year.

The sustained growth has caused a housing shortage that is contributing to an increase in the cost of living. The Arizona Department of Housing estimates that 250,000 new housing units (homes and apartments) need to be built in order to put downward pressure on housing costs. 

Not only does the construction of new housing units contribute to the economy through jobs, and new sales tax revenue from materials and other construction inputs, but the operation of apartment complexes in the state brings in about $3 billion in revenue annually. The 817,600 apartment residents in the state contribute $66.8 billion to the economy annually, $6.8 billion of which is in taxes. 

To keep pace with the steady rate of incoming residents, however, 17,000 new apartments are needed annually. 

For businesses looking to come to the Valley, housing is starting to factor into their decision. In North Phoenix, more than 600 homes are being planned on a 70-acre site near the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturer Co. to accommodate the first wave of employees that will start onsite in 2024. 

Developers throughout the state attempting to meet the housing demands of Arizona’s strong economy, have been dealing with regulatory issues that present a barrier to new construction. According to We Are Apartments, a project of the National Multifamily Housing Council and the National Apartment Association, Phoenix is the 14th hardest metropolitan area for developers to gain entry. 

“If we don’t address the Arizona housing supply crisis by getting new projects approved by cities and towns, then there’s nowhere for rent to go but up,” Arizona Multihousing Association President and CEO Courtney LeVinus said. “Unfortunately, too many elected officials locally either want to kill new multifamily projects outright or mandate expensive additions. That puts residents who rent in a tough position — and risks the state’s economy.”

To address regulatory issues facing developers, the AMA is advocating for passage of HB 2674 at the state Legislature. The bill would create the Housing Supply Study Committee that will examine how to implement best practices and work with localities to improve the housing shortage statewide.

Taylor Hersch

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