The State of Arizona must address the lack of affordable housing. Concurrently, the State must also address the high incidence of homelessness, which is a glaring testament to the limited affordable housing stock. As Arizonans struggle with the effects of COVID19 and its triggering of job loss and unprecedented unemployment. Consequently, we face the threat of an increasing number of evictions and foreclosures and a very likely rise in homelessness. Homeless persons and the communities where they are encamped are in are potentially at higher risk of COVID 19 exposure. Homelessness is not compatible with or conducive to compliance with CDC guidelines, i.e., social distancing, frequent hand washing, and wearing PPE.
I have worked with homeless populations for more than ten years, providing food, clothing, temporary shelter, water, pet food, blankets, toiletries, and temporary shelter. I am keenly aware that these efforts are only a Band-Aid; the underlying problem remains: People are still living on the street, in storm water culverts, and under bridges. I and several partners initiated a transitional housing initiative that will culminate in home ownership for program graduates. It is a great effort but in reality, it is a drop in the bucket compared to the critical need. Numerous churches, nonprofits, and individuals are working feverishly to help homeless populations, but more needs to be done and resources are sorely lacking.
Low AND moderate-income families continue to struggle with access to affordable housing. Seniors, veterans, mentally ill, and physically disabled persons are especially challenged. Schools, police departments, social service programs, and health care systems are overburdened with educating, policing, providing healthcare (physical and mental) for homeless populations. Statistics reveal the problem is getting worse.
Leadership and funding for affordable housing on the state level is quintessential. Working with municipalities and the Federal government to develop and implement a comprehensive plan to ensure Arizonans have access to safe, healthy, and affordable housing stock is an area I intend to address once elected.