How Phoenix might get more subsidized housing vouchers for low-income residents

Published: Tuesday, May 30, 2023 - 4:27pm
Updated: Wednesday, May 31, 2023 - 8:23am

Phoenix leaders are pushing Arizona’s congressional delegation to help low-income residents. Specifically, they want more federal vouchers for subsidized housing.

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego calls voucher allocation political, “There's been a hesitation in Washington, D.C., to update the formula to make sure we get our fair share of housing vouchers. In part, I think because of who sits on which congressional committees.”  

She says Philadelphia, with a slightly smaller population than Phoenix, gets three times the vouchers as Phoenix. 

“We really want to see a significant expansion in the overall vouchers to the entire country, and then specifically that Phoenix receive our fair share, given the demand to live in our community and the need for affordable housing,” Gallego says.

She, along with Vice Mayor Yassami Ansari and Councilwomen Betty Guardado, Kesha Hodge-Washington, Laura Pastor, Ann O’Brien and Debra Stark signed letters to Arizona’s congressional delegation asking for support. 

The letters state that Phoenix faces a housing shortage crisis. It cites Phoenix as being 163,000 units short based on data gathered in 2019.

In a press release, Ansari said, “Homelessness is a housing issue. Increasing Phoenix’s allocation of Housing Choice Vouchers and fully funding the HUD budget, our congressional partners can help us ensure that fewer Phoenicians fall into homelessness.”

Gallego is hopeful the Biden administration’s proposed budget to expand the program nationwide will help.

“Realistically, to me we have a greater chance of succeeding if the overall supply of vouchers goes up so that we can get more without taking any from another community,” Gallego says.

Phoenix currently gets more than 7,000 vouchers. Under the program, a voucher holder pays 30% of their income toward housing while the federal government covers the rest. More than 14,000 people are on the waitlist in Phoenix.

The only council members not to sign the letters were Councilmen Jim Waring and Kevin Robinson. Waring did not respond to a question about why he did not sign while Robinson sent an email: 

"Housing Choice Vouchers (HCVs) are an important way the City can ensure access to safe and affordable housing options are readily available for residents of Phoenix. Elected officials need to do their own research and lean on the experts and although I did not sign on to my colleagues' letter to Congress, I fully support the ask for additional HCVs."

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