Phoenix and the State of Arizona are Severely Under-Resourced for Affordable Housing


I was writing an article this week and putting together some stats for a presentation when it became alarmingly clear that the State of Arizona and the City of Phoenix have some of the lowest levels of federal affordable housing in the USA.  For the size of Phoenix and the population within the state, it should not be shocking the number of homeless we are seeing.

Large City, Small Amount of Affordable Housing:

If we compare Phoenix with 5 larger cities, we see Phoenix is extremely low in the number of federally subsidized units.  A note, HCV stands for Housing Choice Vouchers or the Section 8 program.

  1. New York-  Population- 8,550,000 people- Public Housing Units- 177,000- HCVs-99,000
  2. Los Angeles– Population- 3,971,000 people- Public Housing Units-7,100- HCVs- 50,000
  3. Chicago- Population- 2,720,000 people- Public Housing Units-21,865 units- HCVs-54,733
  4. Houston- Population-2,296,000 people- Public Housing Units- 3,934 units- HCVs-17,674
  5. Philadelphia- Population-1,567,000 people- Public Housing Units-13,370 units- HCVs- 20,925
  6. Phoenix- Population- 1,563,000 people- Public Housing Units-2,970 units- HCVs- 6,570

It is clear that the city of Phoenix has a lot less than a city of similar size Philadelphia.    Hell, Portland Oregon has 600,000 people but almost 11,000 total units of  affordable housing.  For a city less than half the size of Phoenix, they have more affordable housing.  How about Oakland a city of around 425,000 people?  They have 2100 units of public housing and 13,500 vouchers.  6,000 more affordable units of federal housing in a city around 25%-30% the size of Phoenix?  Freaking Akron, Ohio has 5,000 vouchers which is only a tick under the 6500 in Phoenix!!!!!

Where did things go wrong?  Lets take this state-wide!

Entire State of Arizona Has Less Than Some Medium Sized Cities-

Arizona has 24 public housing authorities of which only 12 have public housing.  That is not abnormal for western cities.  However; the entire number of public housing for the entire state stands at:

6,131 public housing units.…………………………………………….

Compare that to Cuyahoga County which is the county that encompasses Cleveland, Ohio.  The Cuyahoga County Housing Authority has 9633 public housing units.  One Ohio county has more public housing than the entire state of Arizona.  A state with 7 million people has less hard public housing than a county with a population of 1.25 million people.  I understand the public housing program stopped building long before Phoenix became a major city but it gives you an idea of why we are having so much in the way of homelessness.

How about the number of housing choice vouchers state-wide with Public Housing Authorities?

20,471 Housing Choice Vouchers…..…………………………………………………….

The city of New York has 5x the number of vouchers the entire State of Arizona has.  Los Angeles and Chicago have more than double the number of the State of Arizona.
The DC Housing Authority has over 15,000 housing choice vouchers with a population of 636,000 people.  The District of Columbia also has another 9,000 public housing authorities which means it has only around 3,000 less federal subsidies than the entire State of Arizona.


There are other project based vouchers and non Section 8 subsidies in the state but you get the idea.  Phoenix and the State of Arizona will need to show leadership in increasing affordable housing stock if they ever hope to have enough to keep up with the growth.

Data from this article came from HUD user and census data.

Author Notes:

You can reach Josh Crites at or or by leaving a comment.

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