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Downtown Phoenix in need of more mixed-income housing, city official says

Posted at 5:49 AM, Aug 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-14 13:42:00-04

Downtown Phoenix is in the middle of a renaissance with new apartment buildings and condos seemingly going up on every corner.

As it becomes the new hot spot to live in the Valley, some say the critical element of affordable housing is still missing.  

Phoenix has been leading the way for years with an original program that uses housing vouchers to find homeless families and veterans permanent housing. The program covers the deposits for rent as well as utilities which can sometimes be the upfront bills that keep an apartment out of reach.

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While the program helps hundreds of people every year, sometimes the city has struggled to gift the vouchers.

Most of the critical services families in need use are located in the downtown core. The vouchers don't come with a car so if there isn't easy access to public transportation, trying to commute from other parts of Phoenix isn't worth the hassle. 

The city does outreach beyond the downtown core and continues to expand its resources but Marchelle Franklin, Director of Human Services, says this highlights the need to come together as a community to solve the issue of homelessness.

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"It takes a village, if you will, it takes public, it takes private, it takes non-profit, it takes our home takes community to come together and say, 'How do we continue to create affordable opportunities for housing for individuals?'" said Franklin.

A prime example of the solution is the Coffelt-Lamoreaux apartment homes near 19th Avenue and Buckeye Road. They were run down and ready to shut down until a developer came in and not only rehabbed them, but kept the lower income requirements. It took partnering with housing departments at a federal, state, county and city level to make it happen. 

Franklin says the real key moving forward is creating mixed-income housing, particularly in the downtown core. 

"You're creating opportunities to blend everyone from different socio-economic statuses and life experiences in a place that's safe and healthy and whole for them," Franklin said.

RELATED: Tempe looking to expand veteran housing