Recently, I visited the Arizona State Land Department offices on West Adams in Phoenix. They are located just two blocks from the Arizona Capitol. This area has become a settlement for a large portion of Arizona's homelessness population. Tents are lined up along the majority of cross streets in this area, housing both individuals and families. They serve as their main shelter during the summer or winter. One man's trash can be another man's treasure, and these tents are certainly full of treasure.
Anyone who has a soul will be moved by the sight. I am both angry and saddened by the sight. Housing is something I am passionate about as a former new home builder. In my career, I built thousands of homes and have always believed a decent home is a human right. I am a long-time advocate of the housing industry, knowing how difficult it can be to take a piece of raw land and build homes on it.
George Carlin, the famous comedian and actor who once spoke on the topic of homelessness, said that using the term "homeless" is incorrect because a "home" is an esoteric concept. He called them 'houseless'. He said we needed more "houses" and he was correct.
No matter how much something is required, it is harder to meet that need. You can see that if we don't produce enough of something to meet a demand, the item will become more expensive. Housing is also affected by the same supply and demand scenario. Housing shortages are largely due to the bureaucracy and strict city zoning regulations.
NIMBYism is making city officials nervous
Land, builders and materials are all available to build houses. Builders cannot build if city councils are always blocking them, listening to hateful voices shouting veiled racism at every meeting. These council members show little or no spine, bowing to the wishes of their opponents knowing that their opposition would only result in their being not re-elected.
They don't even understand that a butterfly flapping its wings in Africa can lead to a hurricane in another part of the world. Their refusal to approve an apartment building that is needed results in a "butterfly" effect, resulting in more "houselessness".
Phoenix is home to over a dozen different municipalities and towns. Each has its own planning department and zoning laws, as well as councils. Most of these cities, with a few notable exceptions oppose multifamily housing. Rents continue to rise as a result of the frustration felt by builders.
Our Legislature must act to change the rules governing zoning, as has happened in many other states. Steve Kaiser, a State Senator from Washington state, recently introduced Senate Bill 1117 to fix the problem. Unfortunately, local governments as well as Governor. Katie Hobbs and her supporters rebelled against the bill's passage, which led to its failure. Hopefully, Sen. Kaiser won't give up on his quest.
He should ask the local councils to visit the Adams area and see what the result is of their neglect.