Tuesday: with the legislature on recess, we met Attorney General Mayes and the LGBTQ+ caucus for a breakfast at the capitol to share the important issues facing queer communities in Arizona.
Wednesday: we met up at Brick Road for our weekly Grounds for Connection social hour. If you’re looking for community, especially if you live in Tempe, this is the place to be! Make sure to stop by after Ask Smart People Smart Questions next week.
Thursday: we joined the Human Rights Campaign and All Voting is Local for a civic engagement drag event at Kobalt Bar in Phoenix.
Saturday: after co-developing ideas for policies to promote recycling, sanctuary programs, and community college enrollment at our latest Civic Advocacy Jam, we headed over to the Audobon Society for an Earth Day Climate Summit organized by our friends at AZ AANHPI for Equity.
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With the legislature scheduled to return to session on Tuesday, we’re preparing to be a constant presence at the capitol. On their first day back, we’ll be joining an Advocacy Day hosted by the Arizona Center for Empowerment, and we’ll be back the next week for our joint lobby day with NARAL, on May 2.
This is an all-hands-on-deck moment to stave off legislative attacks on trans rights and to advance policy solutions to real problems.
The Housing Crisis
Right now, Arizona has a shortage of 270,000 homes, a crisis of access and affordability that disproportionately harms the LGBTQ+ community — while a large majority of non-LGBT adults own their own homes (70.1%, according to the Williams Institute), less than half of LGBT adults are home owners (only 49.8%). LGBT people who rent are also 28% more likely to move than non-LGBT renters, making us even more vulnerable in a housing shortage. Queer people, especially queer youth, are also more likely to experience housing insecurity and homelessness.
While there are many factors at play, the preponderance of evidence makes it clear that zoning is the main cause of Arizona’s housing shortage, and as long as housing supply remains drastically lower than demand, other positive reforms will be largely unable to address affordability. Right now, there are three active bills carrying forward research-based solutions to the housing crisis.
SB 1161: in its current form, this bill accomplishes three major priorities. First, it enables by-right development of high-density affordable housing along the light rail and street car in commercial, mixed-use, and residential zones, making important exceptions not to develop near airports or to displace mobile home parks. Second, it requires cities to submit rigorous five-year housing needs assessments to the state. Third, it allows Arizona residents to be prioritized for federal housing choice vouchers.
SB 1163: this bill focuses on expanding options for affordable housing, like manufactured homes, and requires cities with more than 30,000 residents to create additional residential zones that allow for duplexes and triplexes. Data from a Zillow research report showed that LGBTQ+ people, and especially LGBTQ+ people of color, purchased affordable home types like duplexes and triplexes at far higher rates than cisgender and heterosexual home buyers. Like SB 1161, this bill also requires cities to create five-year housing needs assessments.
HB 2536: this bill enables construction of unique affordable housing options like accessory dwelling units (casitas) and dorm-style senior housing. Another provision of the bill would end minimum parking requirements for residential developments, allowing for greater density and more walkable neighborhoods. It also expedites rezoning to residential use and restricts “design review,” a process that creates essentially no value, but is often abused to bog down development of affordable housing.
After the Washington Elementary School District Governing Board voted back in March to end a voluntary contract with Arizona Christian University over anti-LGBTQ+ policies that violated WESD’s nondiscrimination policy, ACU is now suing the school district, petitioning a federal judge to force the contract to be reinstated. Arizona Christian University, led by Len Munsil (who founded the Center for Arizona Policy, an anti-LGBTQ+ advocacy group) is being represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, an anti-LGBTQ+ hate group based in Scottsdale. While the contract between WESD and ACU was a local issue, it has become a new front in ADF’s nationwide war on LGBTQ+ rights.
Media & Events
Ask Smart People Smart Questions: School Governance
6:30 pm - 7:30 pm April 26, 2023 | register
With each installment of Ask Smart People Smart Questions, Equality Arizona convenes a panel of experts to talk about the bigger picture of the big issues that affect the LGBTQ+ community in Arizona. With LGBTQ inclusion and support becoming an increasingly incendiary topic in school board meetings across the state, it’s important not to let those debates happen in a vacuum. Over the course of an hour, we’ll cover four big questions about school boards with the goal of adding important context to the conversation.
How is governance distributed in our public education system?
What has been the history of dialogue and debate around public education in Arizona?
Where is the current trend of extremism coming from, and what form does it take?
In what ways does this trend rely on the structure of governance in public education?
Ask Smart People Smart Questions is recorded and published as a podcast feed. Catch up on past discussions at equalityarizona.org/questions.