Courtesy of  Stephanie Snyder – Mar. 13, 2012
Cronkite News Service

WASHINGTON – There is a growing shortage of affordable housing in the country, and the situation is even more severe in Arizona, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

It said in a recent report that Arizona is the second-worst state in the country when it comes to affordable and available rental housing for “extremely low income” households, or those making 30 percent of the region’s median family income.

For every 100 such households, there were only 20 rental units that were affordable and available in Arizona in 2010, said the report, “The Shrinking Supply of Affordable Housing.”

Only Nevada was worse, with 17 available units per 100 extremely low-income renters.

“That’s definitely a number to focus on,” said Megan Bolton, a senior research analyst for the report. “It’s a pretty severe shortage in Arizona.”

Arizona also finished second-to-last — again behind Nevada — for the percentage of extremely low-income households with a severe housing cost burden.

The report said 83 percent of such households spend more than half their monthly income on housing and utilities.

Bolton said the situation in Nevada and Arizona can be partly attributed to their high foreclosure rates, which has driven a lot of people back into renting from home owning.

“There’s just a lot more people demanding rental units, which is both driving the price up and making those units unavailable to the lowest-income households,” she said.

Arizona has a state housing trust fund that provides assistance to extremely low-income families, but it has been cut from $30 million to $2.5 million in recent years.