Arizona Town Hall
Housing needs and wants was the subject of a one-and-a-half hour presentation by Arizona Town Hall to Douglas and county leaders last week at the Douglas Golf Course.
More than 40 were in attendance to hear a review of the findings of the 93rd Arizona Town Hall “Improving the Availability and Quality of Housing for All Arizonans.”
During the opening of the meeting, Douglas Mayor Dr. Michael Gomez praised the Arizona Town Hall program, particularly the work done recently on housing.
During the meeting, Tara Jackson, Arizona Town Hall; Marilyn Robinson, The Drachman Institute at the University of Arizona; and Rich Gaar, SEAGO, made presentations.
“ One of the goals the state has to shoot for, based on responses at this meeting, is not only to have affordable housing, but also the right kind of housing throughout the state. Also, people need to have a better understanding of how to buy a house to stop the widespread foreclosures were are seeing,” Jackson said.
The action plan set forth during the Town Hall included:
√ Develop a comprehensive state housing plan.
√ Implement a public education and public relations campaign.
√ Provide Financial Literacy Education.
√ Think globally, act locally.
√ Urge the Arizona Legislature to take Action.
√ Provide incentives for desired development.
√ Implement robust economic development strategies.
√ Adopt Housing Finance Regulations.
√ Demonstrate Effective Leadership.
√ Protect, pursue and secure needed funding.
The complete summary report can be found at www.douglasdispatch.com.
Marilyn Robinson, Drachman Institute, said “It is estimated that 35 percent of all Americans are facing some sort of housing threat. Education has to be an important part of any program. People must be better informed about the issues that ability to afford a house.
“Arizona residents, at all levels, should have housing available that meets their family needs and their paycheck.”
She said that there is also a problem in Arizona because the housing stock is aging.
Rich Gaar, SouthEast Arizona Governments Organization (SEAGO), said “Housing is a basic human right and it is something the state and developers need to address.
“You can’t use the same solutions across the board. Rural problems tend to need rural solutions.
“We need a housing plan that meets the needs of the entire state.”
Following the presentations, the meeting was opened to comments from the community leaders in the audience.
Cochise County Administrator Mike Ortega said that any plan has to be a regional effort.
While foreclosures are impacting families throughout the state and United States, its impact is not being felt as much in Douglas.
“Less than 10 percent of the homes have been foreclosed on in Douglas, and that is a a bit over historical levels,” said Holly Berryhill of Jones Real Estate.
Ortega also noted, that despite the economic downturn, according to the County Assessor, the Douglas assessed value has not dropped.