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Affordable Housing is in Reach for Tempe Residents

City lawmakers are closer to finalizing part of the 2024 election ballot that could increase Tempe’s affordable housing budget and raise taxes for property owners.

According to the Tempe City Council during its study session on Thursday, the proposed funding, requested by the Community Health & Human Services, would mean $32 million in a five year program that will aid in building more housing units.

Tim Burch, the Community Health & Human Services Director, said before the council, “We believe this addresses homelessness, community health and well-being, as well as an opportunity to increase our housing inventory ratios.”

This particular improvement plan would mean for more houses, in addition to a current $72 million bond that is currently building many affordable housing units in the area.

Berdetta Hodge, a current Tempe City Council member, said, “I definitely want to go in this direction. We need as many tools in our toolbox when it comes to affordable housing.”

For the $72 million bond the city is currently using, the median household pays an approximate $81 increase in property taxes. By including an additional $32 million in affordable housing, the median household will pay an additional $19 a year.

This means, if the budget passes, residents will pay an overall $100 increase in yearly property taxes.

The presentation, displayed during the Tempe City Council study session, maps out a plan to move forward with this budget on a general bond. This means the city of Tempe will take out a loan and periodically pay back the full amount in the span of 20 years.

“You've presented a very complex decision.” Arlene Chin, a Tempe City Council member said to Burch. “Many of the discussions and decisions that we make are intentional and include the consideration of Tempians, both past, present, and future. What we’re trying to do here is capture that.”

According to Pew Research, Arizona’s population rose to 14.7% from 2010 to 2022. Housing during this time period had only increased by 11.9%, displacing many Arizonans. In 2023, Tempe's housing crisis resulted in approximately 355 homeless people in the 40.2 square mile area, according to data provided by the city of Tempe.

“I’m in support of all of it,” said City Council member, Doreen Garlid. “We are doing exactly what our residents want us to do. They want us to come up with affordable housing. They want us to have more housing in the city of Tempe. This outlines one way we are going to be able to do this.”

As the 2024 November election comes closer, more steps will be taken to ensure that this bill is ready to take action.

Tom Duensing, the Chief Deputy City Manager, said he plans to form a bond committee, which will take a closer look at further studying the funding. Additionally, he plans to speak once again to the City Council in two weeks to discuss new advancements.

Chin said to the public, “I encourage people that want to learn more and better understand, to attend and participate in the forums and meetings that will happen.”

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