The city of Tempe has been suffering from a lack of new, affordable, and/or diverse housing strategies and opportunities. Per the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 2014 Comprehensive Housing Affordability Strategy CHAS data, 36.8 percent of Tempe households are considered cost burdened. In addition, there has been a rise in senior homelessness.
While the Tempe Housing Authority administers Housing Choice Vouchers (HCV) funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to families earning between 30 and 50 percent of area median income (AMI), the waiting list is years long and is not doing enough to combat the affordable housing needs and challenges. At the same time, Tempe’s core is projected to grow substantially over the next 20 years.
With the current housing challenges and the projected growth information, city officials started developing and creating boutique policies and programs that took best practices from federal programs to provide a wide range of services and rent subsidies, and to encourage the development of housing for people of all income levels, and for ownership and rentals.
As such, the city created the Urban Core Master Plan to address the growth expected over the next two decades. It was developed for smart growth and to make developments more predictable for developers and residents. There is a new Urban Core District that has an opt-in zoning district that will promote transit and pedestrian-friendly development near light-rail stations, streetcar stops, and transit corridors. The aim is to encourage sustainable developments for affordable workforce housing and homeless housing.
The city of Tempe through its Housing Authority also created a nonprofit affiliate entity to pursue affordable objectives outside the traditional HUD limitations of income and rent. The affiliate is the purchasing and managing arm for the city. For example, 31 single-family and multifamily homes, with a mix of zero- to five-bedroom units, were purchased using community development block grant (CDBG) funds, with an affordability structure of 0 to 80 percent of AMI. In addition, seven single-family workforce homes ranging from one- to four-bedroom units are under construction.