Opinion

Muriel: We must do more to make housing affordable for all workers in Arizona

Posted 11/19/21

On any given night in Arizona, there are just under 11,000 people experiencing homelessness. Still being in the middle of a pandemic and now seeing inflation rise by over 6%, it is no wonder that so many people are struggling in the wake of what’s happened globally in the past year and a half.

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Opinion

Muriel: We must do more to make housing affordable for all workers in Arizona

Posted

On any given night in Arizona, there are just under 11,000 people experiencing homelessness. Still being in the middle of a pandemic and now seeing inflation rise by over 6%, it is no wonder that so many people are struggling in the wake of what’s happened globally in the past year and a half.

At the Arizona Housing Coalition, our team is dedicated to ending homelessness and advocating for more affordable housing for all Arizonans. Affordable housing has become a hot topic, especially as we are seeing market-rate rent prices skyrocket around the state.

Arizonans are becoming more aware of affordable housing as new developments go up around the Valley. There has also been a rise in the “NIMBY” narrative as some individuals work to advocate against affordable housing developments in their own communities. NIMBY — short for not in my backyard — has become a term to describe individuals who do not want affordable housing developments built in or around their communities.

This movement is driven out of fear of the unknown and rooted in the perpetration of harmful stereotypes that are often associated with affordable housing developments. The Housing Hub describes the term as the, “​​...opposition to affordable, supportive or transitional housing ... usually based on the assumed characteristics of the population that will be living in the development. Common arguments are that there will be increases in crime, litter, thefts, violence and that property taxes will decrease.”

All Arizonans deserve to have a safe, affordable place to call home, and now more than ever it is essential for our communities to reach out and lend a helping hand to our neighbors in need. The best way to work towards unifying our communities and combating the NIMBY narrative is to learn, share and advocate for understanding.

If you have never experienced housing instability or know someone who has, it can be difficult to identify with the experience. It is easy to dismiss the experience of someone who needs affordable housing when you don’t understand their journey — but what if it was someone you knew moving into the development in your neighborhood? A conversation with a friend recently prompted this opportunity for reflection for me.

She is a teacher here in Arizona and is currently struggling with housing as her apartment complex in Tempe has notified her that her rent will be raised to a staggering (and unaffordable) $2,200 a month. She reached out recently to ask me if I knew of any resources for affordable housing because she, on a teacher’s salary, cannot afford to continue paying rent.

I was shocked to hear that her rent was almost twice my monthly mortgage payment. Imagine losing a dedicated, talented and caring teacher because she can no longer afford to live here in Arizona? Now imagine how many other people you may know or see in your day-to-day life who are impacted by our state’s lack of affordable housing. It could be anyone from your rides hare driver to your child’s favorite teacher.

It’s time we all reach out and truly see our neighbors. We must come together as Arizonans to fight for affordable housing in each of our communities and say, “Yes, in my backyard”.

Editor's note: Emma Muriel is communications manager for the Arizona Housing Coalition. Visit azhousingcoalition.org.

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