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Arizona Senate rejects 'affordable housing' bill

Not enough Republicans voted Monday in support of SB 1117, which would have set restrictions on how Arizona's cities regulate housing developments.

PHOENIX — The Arizona Senate has failed to pass legislation that was intended to make housing more affordable by boosting the state's supply of homes.

In a 9-20 vote on the Senate floor Monday afternoon, Senate Bill 1117 couldn't get enough votes from Republicans to advance out of the chamber and head over to the Arizona House of Representatives.

The legislation would have made several changes to how Arizona's cities regulate zoning matters and ultimately cut down the red tape to let developers build more housing. 

"Building our way out of this crisis is the fastest, most effective way to solve a myriad of issues, including bringing down unaffordable rents and giving working Arizonans the ability to buy a home and live out the American Dream," state Sen. Steve Kaiser, the bill's sponsor, wrote in a column about SB 1117 last month.

The issue of unaffordable housing has become a prime concern for Arizona's lawmakers in recent years. 

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The Valley's rate of homelessness jumped by 36% during the COVID-19 pandemic. And a report released by the Common Sense Institute of Arizona found that the state has a housing shortage of nearly 100,000 units.

"Arizona has a housing crisis and needs more housing. Resolving it will require more than just tinkering around the edges of public policy. Thoughtful, bold, and swift action is required," the CSI report states.

Many cities publicly opposed SB 1117 because they believed the legislation would have taken away their ability to make important zoning decisions. 

Critics of the bill further argued that it offered no guarantees for making housing units more affordable to the average resident.

Kaiser, a Republican representing District 2, said Monday he'll continue working on finding solutions to fix the housing crisis.

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