There is a rise in homelessness among seniors in the Valley, and much of it can be attributed to rising rent costs. However, solutions are happening in the Valley, starting with affordable housing.
Acacia Heights by Foundation of Senior Living, or FSL, is a new property near 7th Avenue and Pierson Street, a much-needed affordable housing for seniors. The nonprofit also pays for utilities for nearly 80 units with amenities like a pantry, laundry and computer room. There are over 100 people on the waitlist.
“People are discouraged it would be a couple of years before they can move in here, and they need something now,” said Steve Hastings, Director of Real Estate Services for FSL. “We are seeing more of our seniors that are homeless; they can’t find a place to live that they can afford.”
Seniors like Sheila, who was chronically homeless, were lucky enough to get a unit at Acacia Heights. She pays $700 a month. Before this, she was priced out of her apartment because she lives on a fixed income. “It’s very frustrating, it’s sad. You can’t function, really,” said Sheila. “Your mind starts going, it starts working, not knowing how to pay the next rent, the next month.”
Hastings reports Arizona is short of around 275,000 to 300,000 affordable units. He says the state produces 3,000 to 5,000 every year. FSL has properties at all corners of the state, but he said there needs to be more of an investment to house our elderly.
“We need to, as a society, need to work out and figure out how we’re going to solve this problem. I’m afraid its not a national solution; we as Arizonans are going to figure out how to solve this problem,” said Hastings.