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Phoenix councilwoman says 'spread the love' when it comes to housing, homeless services

A Phoenix city councilwoman is calling on her colleagues to do more when it comes to housing and homelessness. 

“If there was a real desire from everyone on the council, things could change,” said Betty Guardado, whose district includes west Phoenix. 

During a meeting Wednesday that featured a progress report on the city’s strategies to address homelessness, Guardado expressed frustration with what she sees as two or three council districts taking on new shelters and low income housing.

“And we said that we were going to spread the love throughout the whole city if we are going to make a dent in this,” she said.

Last year, Phoenix added nearly 600 shelter beds with another 800 expected over the next two years. Most are in Districts 7 and 8, which include downtown, south Phoenix and Laveen.

“I hear what you’re saying, “Montes told Guardado. “We are looking for every available property. We have mapped citywide and by district where the allowable zoning in areas are by district. We are looking at it holistically, in terms of where can affordable housing potentially be placed and some of that comes from opportunities from the private sector and the nonprofit sector in terms of projects they’re putting forward and supporting those as well.”

Phoenix has about 140 city-owned parcels that could be used for housing. The list was compiled in December 2020 and updated in August 2022. So far, only one development is moving forward and that’s because Guardado’s office suggested the parcel for low-income senior housing next to the Helen Drake Senior Center at 27th between Glendale and Northern avenues.

“Some of the issues related to each parcel have to do with community outreach and input and working with the council offices and making sure that we're ready for whatever might come in terms of those parcels,” said Gina Montes, deputy city manager.

“I just think there's  a lot of urgency around this,” Guarado said. “I think it’s going to be incredibly difficult to move any of these pieces if the housing question is not answered.”

Councilwoman Debra Stark offered to encourage nonprofits and private developers to consider other areas of the city.

Highlights shared during update on the city’s strategies to address homelessness

As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.