Housing, Infrastructure Critical for Workforce, Valley Mayors Say

By Audrey Jensen | Phoenix Business Journal

Without more housing, infrastructure funding and water conservation, among other hurdles, the Phoenix metro could struggle to support its current and projected population and economy, according to several mayors who spoke at a Valley Partnership panel on May 13.

The Valley, as well as Arizona, has taken the spotlight in recent years as more people flock to the fastest-growing cities in the country and as corporate giants and manufacturers such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. make plans to build massive plants and create thousands of jobs.

Other sectors, including e-commerce, higher education and biosciences, have also become big job producers for the area.

But as the metro continues growing with more people, companies and development, Valley cities have been working to mitigate some of the biggest hurdles facing the region, including housing affordability and shortages, ongoing water concerns and building out enough infrastructure for the growth.

Housing continues to be a main concern

In addition to infrastructure, more housing affordability and supply is also needed to support companies and the workforce moving into the state, the mayors said.

Cities have made efforts to increase the number of homes and multifamily units developed in recent years, but they are also fighting negative stigmas for apartments and affordable housing while trying to fill the housing demand.

“If we don’t figure out housing and where these employees are going to live…then it’s all going to stop here within a couple years,” Buckeye Mayor Eric Orsborn said. “Affordability has really become an issue here, and we’ve got to figure out how to get more of this to market faster.”

Housing is also a top priority for Phoenix, Mayor Kate Gallego said, adding that the city has seen a 70% increase in multifamily permits and a “sizable” increase in single-family homes. In recent months, Maricopa County has also approved millions of dollars for development of affordable housing.

The mayors also addressed the staffing shortages experienced in their own city departments, which has contributed to longer development times for projects in the metro in addition to material shortages.

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