The thought of buying a home is daunting and completely overwhelming. It is something that we are often told creates the best investment and is a necessary step in our efforts to improve our financial futures.
Oftentimes home ownership seems completely out of reach and the idea of the responsibility that comes with it is scary. I already did the whole “financially responsible” thing back in my late twenties when I lived in the UK. I bought my first home aged 27 with my ex-husband through the generous help of my in-laws. I guess I was lucky. I had a decent job, a retirement fund and was working on building a sound financial foundation with my then-spouse.
The home we bought at the end of the housing crash in 2013 created a good profit for us when we sold it three years later following our decision to relocate to Phoenix, Arizona.
The equity funded our relocation in January 2017 and, if everything had gone as planned, we would have had enough money left for a healthy down payment on a new home here. My financial security was destroyed when my marriage ended, and soon enough I was facing a whole new reality.
Dealing with the chaos of divorce led me to make some questionable life choices, namely signing a 13-month lease on a one bedroom apartment with a rent of $1300 a month. I hadn’t quite got my head around the reality of a single-person income working as a case manager in the non-profit sector didn’t provide me with the healthiest of income sources.
I was spending over half of my income on rent and racking up student loan debt to pay my bills and expenses. My previously sensible money management skills went out of the window for a short while. My share of the equity from the home we had owned in the UK was soon gone.
It wasn't until the day I checked my bank balance to see my total worth of $0.43 that I got the reality check I needed. I tried to come out of my lease, but would have been charged $2500 to do so. It didn’t make sense. So I sucked it up and made a vow to become financially smart in 2019.
Divorce rocked my world and gave me the fire in my heart to forge my financial future independently. I learnt the hard way that I was part of the statistic of 56% of married women leaving major investing and financial planning decisions to their spouses.
On the flip side, I became part of the statistic of the 91% of women who see divorce as an opportunity to focus on their career and take better control of their finances (Financial Fresh Start study, 2018). I made goals to increase income, start saving again for retirement and buy a home. This meant taking some hard steps backwards in the hope of rocketing forward.
I left my one bedroom apartment at the end of my lease and moved into a room share situation, reducing my rent by over a half. It is becoming a reality of my generation of single person households for co-living to be the norm. High rents make saving and investment almost impossible otherwise.
According to a study by Trulia in 2017, millennials are most affected by increasing housing costs, with more than 20% living with roommates and an astonishing 60% living with either roommates or families.
My career focus paid off and with an increase in income from a new position plus the savings in my budget from the lower rent, I was able to start 2019 by moving forward towards my financial goals.
Communicating my confusion about home buying opportunities, a co-worker suggested I contacted Trellis, a non-profit organization that provides home ownership counseling and financial access to individuals and families wanting to purchase a home.
I set up an account online and called to speak to Gloria; a client services representative. I explained my situation and that I am starting to rebuild my financial stability from scratch. I told Gloria that I struggle to understand the home buying process here in the US and how it seems an impossible task to save the funds needed for a down payment.
Gloria was comforting and explained I will be assigned a housing counsellor who will go through the process with me, talk through my budget, help me to improve my credit and see what financial assistance I may qualify for, all at zero cost. Gloria explained Trellis is a one stop shop of home buying counseling, lending, realtor and financial assistance resources.
Knowing I have the option of working with a counsellor to help me navigate this daunting process is reassuring.
I am at the initial stages of the process with Trellis, working on uploading all of my financial documentation needed for my counsellor to start working with me. I’m excited to be able to share my journey on how Trellis may help me to meet my home purchasing goals. If I can get there, I will feel proud to be embracing the opportunities available to me and continuing my journey towards financial independence.
The Arizona Housing Coalition is proud to continue its work to fully restore the State Housing Trust Fund. Created in 1988, the State Housing Trust Fund is the only state resource devoted to addressing Arizona’s housing needs. It is funded from the sale of unclaimed property, such as stocks, savings accounts, or real estate abandoned by the owner, often due to death without a will.
Prior to budget cuts, the Housing Trust Fund acted as a magnet for private investment, leveraged over $350 million in federal dollars annually, and helped 10,000 Arizonans each year avoid homelessness, repair dilapidated homes, and become first time homebuyers. For every $10 million investment in the State Housing Trust Fund, in addition to providing homes for families in need, it could generate $23 million in economic impact and up to 200 jobs each year. It is the goal of the Arizona Housing Coalition and our allies to continue to work towards the full restoration of the State Housing Trust Fund to its pre-recession funds.
Later this month, we have an opportunity to let our elected representatives know how important affordable housing and ending homelessness are to Arizonans all across the state, and we need your help!
The Arizona State Legislature is scheduled to convene January 14. This year, lawmakers will vote on multiple laws surrounding affordable housing and homelessness. By using the Request to Speak (RTS) program, we can become a commanding presence throughout the legislative session, and let our elected officials know that bills relating to these issues need to be a top priority.
RTS is a way for the public to register an opinion on bills scheduled to be voted on, and gives individuals an opportunity to speak about proposed bills during legislative committee sessions. Individuals must register at the kiosks at the State Capitol before weighing in on legislation. Anyone who has attended an Arizona Housing Coalition’s Day at the Legislature in the past should have received log-in information.
If you have not attended or have lost your log-in information, you can complete this sign-in form and our partners at Protecting Arizona’s Families will go to the Capitol to create an account for you. Once the account is created, you will receive an email confirming that your account is activated. If you can make it, please plan on attending the 2019 Day at the Capitol (event details forthcoming!).
Let’s fill the Capitol with our voices and keep affordable housing and ending homelessness on the forefront of the conversation this legislative session! Learn more about the bills being introduced by visiting the Arizona State Legislature website, then sign up to speak using the RTS online portal.
The Arizona Housing Coalition will be leading the charge on restoring the state housing trust fund as our primary legislative priority. We will also advocate for additional state resources to address affordable housing and services to individuals in a housing crisis by monitoring the state budget negotiations and bills being introduced.
The Legislative Session convenes January 14 and should adjourn 100 days later. Let’s make the most of this legislative session and ensure affordable housing and ending homelessness are our elected official’s top priorities in 2019.
Over 2,000 veterans and their families are expected to attend the Arizona Veterans StandDown Alliance’s annual StandDown event in Maricopa County in January, where they will have access to free services relating to housing, hygiene and medical care.
The two-day event will take place Thursday, Jan. 24 and Friday, Jan. 25 at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix. The Arizona Veterans StandDown Alliance (AVSA), operating under the 501(c)3 of the Arizona Housing Coalition, coordinates the event, which is the largest of its kind in the country. AVSA holds similar StandDown events and resource fairs throughout the year in 13 of Arizona’s 15 counties.
A wide variety of services will be available to those in attendance, including housing assistance, pet care, government-issued IDs through the Motor Vehicles Department, medical, vision and behavioral health services and assistance in receiving federal benefits.
In order to keep up with the needs of those in attendance, high-demand services such as dental care will be available at StandDown again this year, while offerings such as overnight services will not be available on-site.
Dental care, ranked by the Department of Veterans Affairs as one of the top three unmet needs of veterans experiencing homelessness, will be provided by the Central Arizona Dental Society Mission of Mercy. Twenty-five full-service dental chairs will be provided by the organization, along with a fully-trained, volunteer staff to administer dental services.
More than 80 service providers will be onsite to volunteer their services to veterans attendance, including officials from the Arizona Superior Court and multiple municipalities, the Social Security Administration office and the Department of Economic Services.The Central Arizona Dental Society Mission of Mercy is spearheading dental services, and will provide 25 full-service dental chairs.
In addition to providing immediate necessities to veterans, AVSA aims to use the StandDown events as a way to increase community awareness surrounding the number of veterans experiencing homelessness in Arizona. At any given time, there are nearly 1,000 veterans in need of shelter in the state.
The first Maricopa County StandDown event was held in 2001 and has since grown to be the largest event of its kind in the nation. The Arizona Veterans StandDown Alliance was created in 2014 in an attempt to unify the efforts of StandDown events and resource fairs held throughout the state. The AVSA now collaborates with government officials and community leaders in 13 of Arizona’s 15 counties, where they work to fill in service gaps, leverage financial resources, build statewide partnerships and maintain accurate data in order to create a collective impact on the homeless veteran population throughout Arizona.
More information on attending the event or working as a volunteer can be found here. Elected officials, dignitaries, and the media are invited to visit the StandDown event and receive a personal tour from the leadership team. To make arrangements, please email email@example.com or text 623-225-6728.
More than 600 people attended the Arizona Housing Coalition’s (AZHC) two-day annual conference, which featured 12 educational tracks, 69 individual breakout sessions and two nationally-recognized keynote speakers.
Keynote speakers for the 25th Annual Statewide Conference on Ending Homelessness included Richard Rothstein, author of the New York Times Bestseller The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, and Dr. Matthew Whittaker, Found and CEO of Diamond Strategies, a diversity and inclusion consulting firm.
“One of the most beneficial things we can do to make our vision for a healthy, housed Arizona a reality is to better understand how we got to this point,” said Joan Serviss, Executive Director for AZHC. “Mr. Rothstein and Dr. Whittaker did an incredible job breaking down our country’s history of redlining and segregated housing, which in turn allows us to learn from the mistakes of the past so we can build a more inclusive future.”
Attendees had the opportunity to attend educational tracks covering issues such as criminal justice, advocacy, racial justice and innovative solutions to housing, with breakout sessions that took in-depth look at gentrification, media and messaging strategies, barriers of justice and affordable housing in rural Arizona. Presentations from breakout sessions can be found here.
Nine awards were given out at the conference, including the Lifetime Achievement Award to Sharon Shore, Chief Operations Officer for HOM, and the Arthur G. Sloane Five-Star Leader Award to Brad Bridwell, the Director of Community Development for Cloudbreak Communities. A full list of this year’s awards recipients can be found here.
The Arizona Housing Coalition (AZHC) is holding its annual resource fairs for the 18th straight year, and is expected to aid thousands of veterans and their family members experiencing homelessness throughout the state.
Through the Arizona Veterans StandDown Alliance program, AZHC’s StandDown events are credited with providing assistance to 3,218 veterans and their families in 2018 alone.
“It’s incredible to see so many people and organizations come together to help us provide these critically needed services for our veterans and their families,” says Shane Groen, Director of Special Projects for AZHC. “These are services they may not get any other time throughout the year, and the positive impact this event has on their lives is immeasurable.”
This will be the 18th year the StandDown events takes place, with events held in 13 of Arizona’s 15 counties. AZHC aims to raise awareness of the issue of homelessness among veterans while teaching various agencies and organizations how to collaborate throughout the year and end homelessness among veterans.
The first StandDown event will take place in Maricopa County on Jan. 24-25, with events in other counties taking place throughout the year. The schedule of events can be found here: https://azhousingcoalition.org/avsa. Maricopa County’s StandDown is the largest resource fair of its kind in the entire country, and will provide services ranging from haircuts to dental work.
“The ability for someone to come in and get dental work - or even something as simple as a haircut and resume assistance - could have a significant impact in their life,” says Groen. “It brings a ray of hope to those who need it most.”
For more information on AVSA, including a list of event dates, resources available and volunteer opportunities, please visit the AZHC website.
As the affordable housing crisis in the United States continues to grow, some housing experts are beginning to challenge the power longtime homeowners have over lower-class renters.
“So many cities are seeing long-standing pro-ownership policies come face to face with growth,” says Randy Shaw, housing activist and author of Generation Priced Out: Who Gets to Live in the New Urban America. "Cities like Seattle, Portland, Minneapolis, and Austin all face similar problems as San Francisco. The nation perceived this as a problem that was only in certain cities, and now it’s spread.”
The Metro Phoenix area is consistently ranked as one of the fastest-growing regions in the country. But with growing populations comes growing problems.
According to a study put out by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, while more than 250,000 Arizona renters qualify for housing assistance, only 17 percent of them receive aid to offset the cost of rent. That leaves approximately 225,000 low-income renters pay more than half o their income for housing.
Members of Congress like Senators including Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Elizabeth Warren have included detailed housing reform plans as part of their political platform. Others, such as Sen. Bernie Sanders, have pushed for raising the minimum wage, a move that would allow renters to put less of their paycheck into rent, and more into saving
City leaders are also beginning to take action and work towards solutions to aid those negatively affected by high housing costs. Seattle, Denver, Portland San Francisco, and Austin have joined other municipalities across the country in implementing pro-growth policies like housing bonds.
“There’s been a wakeup call around America,” he says. “This book is based on the idea that cities can make a change and make this work.”
We are a collaborative association that leads in the efforts to end homelessness and advocate for a safe, affordable home for ALL Arizonans, made up of over 200 organizational members doing the work every day to serve our most vulnerable populations, directed by leaders and experts, with the support of advocates across our state, fighting to serve and house Arizona.
There could not be a more critical time to amplify the voice for affordable housing solutions, in addition to increased funding for supportive services to help all Arizonans get and maintain safe, stable housing. Across the state, and nation, we're seeing headline, after headline, after headline, after headline, and even more headlines about the short supply of housing options affordable to so many, but especially our state's working class and minimum-wage earners. According to a national report released this year, Arizona is short nearly 160,000 affordable housing units, and in the face of that shortage, an Arizona minimum-wage worker would have to work 1.8 full time jobs, or 70+ hours per week, in order to afford a modest two-bedroom rental. Despite an increase in the minimum wage statewide, the costs of living continue to outpace income levels for those already living paycheck to paycheck, particularly in Flagstaff, Maricopa County, and Prescott.
So what has been done, is being done, and can be done about this ever growing crisis?
At the Arizona Housing Coalition, we continue to push forward in our work to end homelessness and housing instability through advocacy, education, and collaboration.
Continued our efforts to restore the state housing trust fund. We were successful in seeing that all future net earnings from the AZ Housing Finance Authority’s single family mortgage programs are transferred to the State Housing Trust Fund. But even with the estimated $2.5 million in earnings of that fund transfer, is falls far short from the $30 million the fund once had to meet the housing needs of our growing state. We are encouraged by off-session bipartisan legislative discussions to restore this funding stream
Built relationships and educated lawmakers on efforts to localize the federal low income housing tax credit at the state level to foster the public-private partnership necessary to see additional affordable homes created in our state.
Warded off attacks at the federal level to slash investments in affordable housing through advocacy alerts, letter writing campaigns, district visits, and Capitol Hill lobbying efforts.
The 24th Annual Statewide Conference attracted over 550+ homeless and housing service professionals for its second sell out year, with over 55 interactive, informative sessions
Since 2015, over 1,700 professionals statewide have received 200+ hours of training and education on best practices in ending homelessness.
Execute the goals and objectives of the Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services Action Plan to End Homelessness Among Veterans Update and work towards creating a statewide By-Name List of Veterans experiencing homelessness and then work to reduce their housing crisis.
Overhauled the veteran toolkit procurement efforts, which assists veterans who have secured employment yet may be in need of supplies or resources in preparation for the first day on the job, such as safety helmets, work boots, or specialized tools.
Continue work in the community around access and opportunities for all Arizonans, including access to fair, safe, and an affordable place to call home.
Policy is moving quickly at all levels from federal to state to municipal. We've seen progress, like the creation of "opportunity zones" by the federal tax cuts, and the recent decision by the Flagstaff City Council to include a $25 million affordable housing bond to the November ballot. But we've also seen setbacks, primarily at the federal level with proposed rescission cuts to the federal budget, proposed rent hikes, and proposed work requirements for those in most need of public assistance. Continue to be an advocate for an end to homelessness through increased access to and supply of affordable housing options by JOINING US. Learn more about membership and subscribe to our Advocacy Alerts to stay in the know.
We also encourage all members and homeless and housing service professionals to join us on the links for our Annual Networking and Golf Outing at Starr Pass Golf Club in Tucson on Wednesday, August 22nd, or at our Annual Member Meeting & Networking Reception, held in conjunction with the ADOH Housing Forum, coming up Thursday, August 23rd, from 6:00PM to 8:00PM. Learn more and register for the golf event HERE, and RSVP to attend our networking reception HERE.
We invite our members interested in professional development to join us for our upcoming "Fair Housing & Tenancy Training" presented by our friends from the Southwest Fair Housing Council and Community Legal Services of Arizona, on Thursday, August 2nd in Phoenix. Learn more & register HERE.
Coming up in November is our 25th Annual Statewide Conference, which is bittersweet as we celebrate a quarter of a century of providing training and awareness to direct-service providers working to end homelessness across Arizona. This year, we are excited to welcome as our keynote Mr. Richard Rothstein, author of the bestselling book, "The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America." Following along with national conversations about the intersections of health and housing as well as equity and housing justice, we look forward to providing a professional development and networking setting to push these conversations forward into action which results in healthy, housed communities throughout Arizona. Learn more about the conference HERE.
COLLABORATE We are proud of the work being done through our program, the Arizona Veterans StandDown Alliance, working to coordinate the annual Maricopa County StandDown and other statewide StandDowns and veteran resource fairs. Still to come this year is the White Mountain StandDown in Show Low on Saturday, August 11th; the Cochise County StandDown in Sierra Vista on Saturday, August 18th; the Yavapai County StandDown in Prescott on Friday and Saturday, September 28th-29th; and the Western Arizona StandDown in Yuma on Wednesday, October 24th. We are also excited to announce the 2019 Maricopa County StandDown will be held January 24th-26th at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix. Learn more and get involved in our work to end homelessness, starting with veterans, by clicking HERE.
Armed with this information about the ever growing need for funding and increased investments in affordable housing, we thank you for your advocacy and look forward to your continued support as we work towards lasting solutions. As we move into our second year as the Arizona Housing Coalition, we are honored to count you as a valued supporter and partner in this work, and look forward to continuing to be the voice for the many organizations, agencies, and programs working to end homelessness and housing instability in Arizona every single day.
In solidarity,Joan Serviss
Each year we look forward to learning directly from StandDown participants about the needs of our military veterans at risk of or already experiencing homelessness, and there has consistently been a tremendous need for dental services. We are excited to provide 25 full-service dental chairs at this years' event, in partnership with Central Arizona Dental Society's Mission of Mercy.
According to the VA, access to dental care was consistently ranked by veterans experiencing homelessness as one of their top 3 unmet needs, along with long-term permanent housing and childcare. Dental issues, such as persistent pain and/or missing teeth can be tremendous barriers in seeking and obtaining employment. Studies have shown that many veterans report that after dental care they feel a significant improvement in perceived oral health, general health and overall self-esteem. Which is why we are eager to work in partnership with Mission of Mercy to assist in meeting this growing need.
With this exciting new addition of much-needed dental services, clothing and shoes will no longer be given at the Maricopa County StandDown. Additionally, overnight services will no longer take place at the event.
This is not because there is no longer a need for clothing -- there is, and we value our many community partners who gather and distribute much-needed boots, shoes, and clothing year-round. This is because the needs of those we serve each year have evolved, and we pride ourselves on being responsive to those wants and needs in order to provide the most effective assistance.
In 2006, 80% of the veterans served at the event met the definition of homeless; in 2017, just 17% of the veterans served were sleeping in shelters or on the streets this past January. Where there was once overwhelming need for emergency shelter and immediate assistance like hygiene and clothing, annual event demographics and statistics in recent years have consistently shown a shift in community need for more in-depth resource connection, such as education and job readiness programs, access to free or low-cost health, vision, and dental care, connection to a variety of housing providers, and more. And due to these changes, event organizers will work hard to refer any street-living veteran attending the event to available veteran-dedicated beds in community shelters.
In addition, as our event has grown to serve over 2,000 veterans annually, the expense of providing a new pair of shoes to everyone in attendance at this single two-day event has become cost prohibitive and we look forward to re-allocating these funds to better serve statewide, year-round work being done to end homelessness, starting with veterans.
This year, our resolution is to be your primary source of information and updates on the work being done to end homelessness by advocating for safe, affordable homes for ALL Arizonans.
Watch for time-sensitive updates from us in your inbox, like advocacy alerts and special announcements, on our social media, and even in your mailbox throughout the year! Or contact us and let us know what you'd like to learn more about.
Arizona Housing Coalition is a 501(c)(3) non-profitFederal Tax ID#: 86-0909029
AZHC is also the proud home of the Arizona Veterans StandDown Alliance
1495 E. Osborn Rd.Phoenix, AZ 85014(602) 340-9393