Arizona Apartment Industry Warns Of 'Crisis Point'

Published: Monday, February 11, 2019 - 5:05am
Updated: Monday, February 11, 2019 - 7:39am
Christina Estes/KJZZ
A luxury high rise in downtown Phoenix.

Arizona’s apartment industry is sounding the alarm about the lack of affordable housing.

A new market analysis conducted for the Arizona Multifamily Housing Association finds strong demand for all types of apartments: affordable, workforce and luxury. But the current supply is mostly in the upper end, and that concerns Courtney LeVinus, the association’s president and CEO.

“We feel like we are at a point if we don’t really start addressing this issue that we’re going to reach a point of kind of what we call no return or crisis point, like we’re seeing in San Francisco and like we’re seeing in some of the cities on the East Coast,” she said.

She said the apartment industry wants to work with policymakers to incentivize developments for lower and middle-income households. They’d like to see governments waive fees, reduce regulations and offer more tax breaks.

“When we’re competing for companies to move their operations and employees to Arizona from, like, California, we’re still extremely affordable from that standpoint,” LeVinus said. “But, for residents and people who work in Arizona, we are getting less and less affordable for our own residents.”

The study found renters make up more than one in three households across the state. The average rent in the Valley was $938 in the second quarter of 2018, up from $908 at year-end 2017. The Valley’s vacancy rate at complexes with more than 50 units was 7.1 percent in the second quarter of 2018, down from 7.4 percent at year-end 2017.

LeVinus said strong demand for apartments is expected to continue in 2019. She said many millennials are staying in apartments longer while some of their parents are downsizing.

“There’s this whole Baby Boomer generation that is also choosing to move back into apartments because they want that low or no maintenance, lock-and-leave environment,” LeVinus said.

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