Lack of affordable home rentals in Phoenix

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A new report by the ASU Morrison Institute shows an increasing lack of affordable rental properties in the Valley, a situation that the study says could have long-term effects on local communities. We spoke to the Morrison Institute’s Katie Gentry, who helped lead the report.

According to Gentry, there are two reasons for the lack of affordable housing in the Valley. The first being there is a lack of supply. Since 2008 when the Great Recession hit, Arizona has not been building at the rate the state was before 2008. However, Gentry mentions, 2020 did see a greater building year than years past. The second is the growing population. According to Gentry, Maricopa County is one of the fastest-growing counties in the country. A lack of supply combined with growing demand has lead to difficulties in finding affordable housing.

Since 2014, the amount of affordable rentals in the Valley has been cut in half. In 2014, 31% of rentals were at or below $800. Today, only 15% makes up the rentals in that price range.

Gentry believes this problem needs to be addressed by several groups. According to Gentry, affordable housing takes just as much money to build luxury housing. To combat that, Gentry suggests offering incentives. Another problem is land prices. The price of land has gone up 81% from 2012 to 2017. To combat this issue, the public can step in and lower the cost of land. Or zoning can be changed to make public land, private and available for multi-family development.

This issue is not unique to Phoenix. According to Gentry, the lack of affordable housing is prevalent among other big cities.

“Phoenix has always been a cheap place to live and that’s no longer the case. We’re just not able to keep up with demand. We’re seeing our prices rise faster and faster. Both Phoenix and Tucson are seeing those costs increase at a very rapid demand,” Gentry said.


Katie Gentry, Housing Research Analyst, Morrison Institute

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