Glendale city officials dealing with 'perfect storm' for affordable housing

The last year and a half has taken a huge bite out of Arizona's supply of affordable housing, and a Glendale city leader called the current climate a ‘perfect storm’ for those needing housing vouchers.

Rising rent forces woman out of Glendale apartment

For Iva Underwood, the clock is ticking. She is in the final days of packing.

"All my kitchen stuff and cooking stuff," said Underwood.

20 years of Underwood’s life have been lived inside her Glendale apartment. However, she has to be out of there by June 30.

"I’m running into a lot of people in this situation. It is a crisis," said Underwood.

Underwood has been renting with a HUD Housing Choice Voucher, often referred to as Section 8. She said her rent was raised this year, to the point where the apartment no longer qualifies.

With rent increasing across the state in 2021, Underwood said she couldn’t found another option with a year waiting list.

"If your family doesn’t take you in, if you don’t have church support, you’re looking at going out on the streets," said Underwood.

Glendale city official weighs in on housing problem

"It’s all come together in the last year and a half, where we have really extremely unaffordable conditions," said Glendale Revitalization Administrator Matthew Hess.

Hess called this a ‘perfect storm.’ He says Glendale has gotten creative to try to fill the affordable housing need but it’s been complicated. They have multiple grant programs, and have increased the number of housing vouchers thanks to CARES Act funding. They have also added a Landlord Liaison in the city.

"Sometimes, there's a perception among landlords that voucher households are more prone to crime, things like that," said Hess. "The liaison will communicate the benefits to landlords of offering Section 8 housing."

The city is also crafting an online database of available affordable homes, and on July 12, they will start accepting pre-applications for voucher waiting lists.

"We have to be creative," said Hess.

Underwood, meanwhile, continues to pack. Luckily, a friend from church is going to allow her to stay with her. For others, however, she says solutions need to come faster because the problem is only getting worse.

"People don’t have time. They’re going to be on the streets now," said Underwood.

More on Glendale's public housing programs:

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