UMOM New Day Centers, Arizona’s innovative leader in shelter, services and housing for families, single women and youth experiencing homelessness, has officially opened its latest affordable housing complex, 19West.
The complex of two and three bedroom apartments offers homes at reduced rent to families and individuals with demonstrated need. Built on a lot formerly used for camping by people experiencing homelessness, the site was deliberately chosen for its access to light rail, grocery stores, schools and other necessities. It is UMOM’s seventh affordable housing property in Phoenix.
According to the U.S. government, housing is “affordable” when it consumes less than 30% of monthly income. 19West apartments will typically be leased at 40% to 60% of AMI (Area Median Income), although other factors – family size, apartment size and ability to pay – will also be part of the monthly payment calculation.
“It’s not a surprise to anyone that metro Phoenix faces a severe shortage of affordable housing,” said UMOM CEO Darlene Newsom. “Without this kind of affordable option, people can end up in unsafe or inadequate housing, far from school or work. Too often, they’re living paycheck to paycheck with no sign of relief. One job lost or one missed check and they’re right back where they started.”
19West also has an extensive range of features and services intended to help families become independent and self-supporting. The building itself includes quiet study spaces, computer labs, libraries for children and adults, community space with a large kitchen and patio, exercise rooms and a food pantry. Wrap-around services including monthly computer training, job-search training and financial literacy will be offered on-site.
Kate Gallego, the newly-inaugurated Mayor of Phoenix, said those extras are part of what make 19West so attractive. “It really recognizes what it means to raise a family – that you need spaces for your children to engage in whatever they love, whether it’s art, music or computers.” Mayor Gallego added, “It is certainly hard enough to be a parent when you’re facing challenges with affordable housing. I’m proud that this is the kind of solution that Phoenix can offer.”
Vania Guevara is the Council Member for District 5, the area that encompasses 19West. She said the effort to increase the inventory of affordable housing hits close to home for her. “As someone whose parents lost their home during the mortgage crisis, and as someone with a college degree who essentially lived out of her truck, I understand why opportunities for affordable housing are so critical to our diverse community.”
Affordable housing is a statewide issue. In a report released last month the National Low Income Housing Coalition named Arizona third worst in the nation for affordable housing. For every 100 extremely low-income household in Arizona, only 25 affordable rental housing units are available.
The need is underscored by the fact that when 19West officially opened today, nearly all 54 apartments had already been leased.