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Scottsdale affordable housing project on hold after funding dispute with county

A plan to build a new affordable housing complex in Scottsdale is being shelved. The setback comes after the city did not get the funding it had counted on from Maricopa County.

Scottsdale  had planned to construct 28 units of housing at the city’s Paiute Neighborhood Center to provide low- or no-cost housing for seniors and people with disabilities, as well as temporary bridge housing for families. Scottsdale City Council in September voted to cover about half of the $15.7 million project. The rest was to come from federal American Rescue Plan Act funds distributed by Maricopa County.

But the county Board of Supervisors never scheduled a vote to approve the transfer of funds. Then in January, the county told Scottsdale officials that the funding was instead being allocated to affordable housing projects in the West Valley, Scottsdale Community Services assistant director Judy Doyle,  told Scottsdale City Council on Tuesday.

Scottsdale Mayor David Ortega blamed the county Board of Supervisors for a lack of communication.

“We even counter-offered if there was some holdback as to how this could move forward so that we could meet the needs of our seniors and veteran population. We did not get any response,” Ortega said during the Tuesday City Council meeting.

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors did not provide a reason as to why it did not allocate funds for the Scottsdale project.

In a statement, a county spokesperson said, “The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors is tasked with allocating American Rescue Plan Act funds and does so with a mindset of determining what projects provide the best value for County taxpayers. The Board invests in those projects based on need and maximum impact for the community. The funding has been allocated to another project.”

Doyle told the City Council that Scottsdale Community Services would continue to look for other sources of funding for the project.

“It’s unfortunate,” said Councilwoman Betty Janik. “Hopefully it’s just a delay and we can continue in the future to accomplish our goals, which is to help our homeless.”

The city reports more than 400 people are currently on the waitlist for housing at three other affordable housing properties in Scottsdale for seniors.

Federal pandemic relief funding has allowed Maricopa County to  make record investments in affordable housing across the Valley over the past few years. But the deadline to distribute all of the remaining American Rescue Plan Act funds is approaching at the end of this year.

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Katherine Davis-Young is a senior field correspondent reporting on a variety of issues, including public health and climate change.