Nonprofit to develop affordable housing complex in Phoenix for community in need

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UMOM New Day Centers, based in Phoenix, announced plans to develop a four-story apartment complex called “19 North” that can accommodate up to 54 families in need of affordable housing. (Source: UMOM New Day Centers) UMOM New Day Centers, based in Phoenix, announced plans to develop a four-story apartment complex called “19 North” that can accommodate up to 54 families in need of affordable housing. (Source: UMOM New Day Centers)
Michelle Ray knows the impact of having affordable housing options after she hit a rough patch in her life about 9 years ago. She and her daughter needed a place to turn to in the face of limited options, so Ray reached out to UMOM. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Michelle Ray knows the impact of having affordable housing options after she hit a rough patch in her life about 9 years ago. She and her daughter needed a place to turn to in the face of limited options, so Ray reached out to UMOM. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Darlene Newsom, chief executive officer of UMOM, says there are many factors that contribute to a lack of affordable housing options in Arizona -- Maricopa County in particular -- that are unique to Arizona. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Darlene Newsom, chief executive officer of UMOM, says there are many factors that contribute to a lack of affordable housing options in Arizona -- Maricopa County in particular -- that are unique to Arizona. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Homeless advocates say gaps in affordable housing options continue to be an issue in parts of Arizona, but a local organization is trying to help answer the call with the development of a new complex that also emphasizes energy efficiency.

UMOM New Day Centers, based in Phoenix, announced plans to develop a four-story apartment complex called “19 North” that can accommodate up to 54 families in need of affordable housing. The $16 million project will be built on a vacant lot near Morten and 19th avenues in Phoenix, and is expected to be completed in 2019.

Michelle Ray knows all too well the impact of having affordable housing options after she hit a rough patch in her life about 9 years ago. She and her 18-month-old daughter needed a place to turn to in the face of limited options, so Ray reached out to UMOM for help.

Ray said she doesn’t like to imagine what her life would be like if she didn’t find UMOM and affordable housing.

“I know if it wasn’t for UMOM, I probably wouldn’t be where I am right now. I wouldn’t have had the opportunities or the guidance or support to be able to get to where I am right now.”

A report released in March by The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) indicates that 71 percent of extremely-low-income renters spend more than half of their income on rent. It also says those households don’t have enough resources left for basic necessities such as food, medicine, transportation or child care, according to a news release from the NLIHC.

Darlene Newsom, chief executive officer of UMOM, says there are many factors that contribute to a lack of affordable housing options in Arizona -- Maricopa County in particular -- that are unique to Arizona.

“I believe that we have some unique challenges in why we need it so much is that we don’t have a strong safety net in Arizona. If someone falls on hard times, there’s not a lot of programs and prevention programs that can help families,” Newsom said.

Newsom believes that although Arizona has its challenges to providing affordable housing, there are opportunities in the state.

“I think there is potential with private developers to designate more of their units when they build complexes, especially these very large luxury complexes, and other complexes that are going up around the state and multi-housing. I think there is an opportunity there to maybe designate 5 units of their new project to families who could live there and have that opportunity,” she said.

19 North will also include energy-efficient lighting and features -- something that UMOM clients have adopted after being introduced to in the past, Newsom said.

“We’re looking at LED light fixtures. We’re looking at windows that are more high-efficiency windows. We’re looking at more desert-type of landscaping on the property. The roof insulation is more than what’s required. We’re also looking at having bikes available, encourage other modes of transportation, aside from driving your vehicle, which is along the light rail. We’re also encouraging residents to use their bikes,” Newsom said.

Newsom acknowledged that 19 North could also help residents break the cycle of poverty because of it’s proximity to public transportation and schools, for example.

It’s a cycle that Ray is pleased to have broken with the right tools and affordable housing to support her in getting back on her feet.

“I moved into an affordable housing apartment, but now at this point where I am in my life, I don’t have state assistance. I don’t have any kind of government assistance or anything like that and I over qualify for affordable housing, which is just amazing,” Ray said.

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