Study: Affordable housing in Havasu approaching crisis point
Although apartment housing is a major economic driver in Arizona, affordable apartment housing is a scarce commodity in Lake Havasu City.
According to the Arizona Multihousing Association, the economic output of apartment housing creates about $3.8 billion, while supporting 22,000 jobs and $699 million in wages throughout the state. While Arizona Multihousing Association officials say the state’s rental industry is healthy, affordable housing is beginning to vanish.
A February report from the Association indicates affordable housing, which accommodates renters earning between $25,000 and $75,000 per year, represents about 48 percent of the total housing market. But while the supply of such housing is diminishing, construction and planning for new apartment complexes throughout Arizona is trending toward the higher end of the housing market.
“This is where the supply/demand imbalance is most noticeable in Arizona,” said Association President Courtney LeVinus, in a written statement accompanying the report. “There is a need and strong demand for reasonably-priced housing in all forms that are close to employment centers and transportation.”
According to Mohave County Housing Authority Director Dave Wolf, finding affordable housing throughout Mohave County is becoming a challenge. And in Lake Havasu City, that is especially true, Wolf says – Havasu has the highest average rents in the county. And according to Wolf, some of Mohave County’s housing managers have eschewed the county’s low-income housing subsidy programs in favor of private-sector gains.
“A couple of property managers have decided they no longer wish to work with our Section 8 housing program,” Wolf said. “We’ve experienced quite a need for affordable one-bedroom units, and rates are increasing. There are a lot of disabled and elderly people, and not enough one-bedroom apartments … they’ve been finding housing in places that are less than the best, like older mobile homes.”
According to Wolf, fewer recipients of the county’s Veteran Assisted Supportive Housing assistance reside in Havasu due primarily to rent costs and lack of participation among property owners.
Throughout Arizona, about 32 percent of households pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing expenses, according to the Multihousing Association. Such a household is described as being cost-burdened, and according to the Association, about 351,000 renters throughout Arizona are described as “severely cost-burdened,” paying more than 50 percent of their respective incomes on housing costs.
According to the Association’s report, families at median income levels are being priced out of new home markets. Throughout the state, apartments continue to be seen as a viable solution for affordable housing.
Contributing factors to rising rent costs include land prices, rising costs of labor and construction materials, the report said.