Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego and our colleagues on the Phoenix City Council have an opportunity to join our efforts to keep more than 130 families out of homelessness.
It should be an easy choice, but it will require real leadership.
This past week, we worked to pass protections for residents facing imminent eviction at three mobile home parks in Phoenix: Periwinkle, Weldon Court and Las Casitas, now called Beacon.
These protections hinge on creating a zoning designation that would keep these properties as mobile home parks. This would allow residents – like elementary student Daniel Ochoa and his five siblings, and U.S. Army veteran Gerald Suter – to stay in their homes.
But we need one more vote for the zoning designation to pass.
Residents have few options to go elsewhere
As council members, we deal every day with the complicated issue of homelessness. But at its most basic level homelessness is about housing.
When residents lose their housing – as the Ochoa siblings and Mr. Suter are about to – they are left with few options. Some find refuge in temporary shelters; others end up sleeping in their cars, in alleys, on sidewalks or in our city parks.
We fear that the families who live at Periwinkle, Weldon Court and Las Casitas are being put in an impossible situation.
We have all seen the growing number of residents experiencing homelessness across our city. Metro Phoenix has led the nation in rent increases – rising 80% from 2016 to 2021 – while wages only grew 22%.
In January, residents across Maricopa County experienced some of the highest number of evictions since the height of the Great Recession.
We can’t stand by while families are evicted
Some have told us the issue of mobile home park displacement is a private property rights issue. But we have given the landlords of these properties – one of which is Grand Canyon University – the space to handle the situation privately, and they have proven themselves incapable of doing so.
We cannot stand by as they prepare to push families with children out onto the street.
A few years ago, residents of the North Central neighborhoods of Phoenix organized together and asked that the city place a zoning designation on a historic home on Central Avenue.
The property owner adamantly opposed the zoning overlay, but the City Council sided with the community and voted to protect the historic integrity of the property.
Today, we only need the leadership of Mayor Gallego or one member of the Phoenix Council to join us to pass our zoning overlay, which would keep hundreds of mobile home park residents out of homelessness.
We hope that they see the urgency of this action. The young Ochoa siblings, Mr. Suter and the other 130 families at Periwinkle, Weldon Court and Las Casitas are hoping they do as well.