Equality Arizona
Equality Arizona Updates
Housing Justice Can't Wait

Housing Justice Can't Wait

Call your legislators before the clock runs out

Action Alert: SB 1161

Call on your Representatives to vote for affordable housing!

As the session winds quickly to a close, there’s very little time left to accomplish important action on the state’s housing crisis. We have a shortage of over a quarter-million homes, and LGBTQ+ people are particularly vulnerable to a lack of affordable housing. One bill that would make a meaningful change for LGBTQ+ people in our biggest cities is SB 1161, which would speed up development of affordable housing (specifically and exclusively) along public transit corridors. This has a double impact of increasing both the affordability and accessibility of our major cities, in a faster time-frame than is currently possible. We need housing justice today, and we can’t afford to wait.

Call Your State Representatives

What the Bill Does

With a strike everything amendment from Representative Analise Ortiz, SB 1161 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.

Weekly Roundup

  • Monday: As last week’s shake-ups and appointments signaled, closed-door budget negotiations were approaching an agreement, and late on Monday we got to see the product of those negotiations for the first time, with the introduction of a package of budget bills. Two big wins to celebrate? $150 million appropriated to the Housing Trust Fund, which invests in affordable housing, and another $60 million for shelters and related services for the unhoused.

  • Despite debate over critical components of the budget, it cleared the Senate on Tuesday, followed by success in the House on Wednesday. On Thursday, Governor Hobbs signed it, marking an end to the main business of the legislative session. Still, while less attention-grabbing, major legislation is still in motion as we speed towards sine die.

Civic Advocacy

Now that the legislature has passed a budget, pressure is on to wrap up ASAP. They’ll meet on Monday to push through as much pending legislation as possible, including every remaining anti-LGBTQ+ bill. Here’s a preview of what’s on the calendar.

  • SB 1001, which restricts teachers from using the pronouns and names their trans and non-binary students request, unless they out those students to their parents in order to obtain written permission.

  • SB 1026, which bans drag story hour events in public libraries, adding fuel to a moral panic with dangerous real-world consequences.

  • SB 1028 & SB 1030, two bills that started out as drag bans and that, even with amendments to remove the word “drag,” the sponsor still seems to think are about drag shows.

  • SB 1040, which bans trans kids in school from using bathrooms and other facilities that align with their gender.

  • SB 1323, which extends a problematic ban on sexually explicit materials in schools to threaten teachers with felonies for any violation of the ban.

  • SB 1503, which age-gates the internet, breaking longstanding privacy protections that are important to the LGBTQ+ community (and to everyone!).

  • SB 1694, which bans public entities from adopting inclusive policies or hosting DEI trainings.

  • SB 1698, another moral panic bill initially introduced as a drag ban with mandatory prison time.

Also pending are two great bills tackling the housing crisis with zoning reform: SB 1163 and HB 2536. To call your legislators about all of these bills, the easiest thing to do is to use the lookup tool on our website.

Political Power

We’ve been tracking anti-LGBTQ+ extremism in school districts across the state, and two big stories have stood out over the past month. First is the fight in Washington Elementary over a contract with Arizona Christian University to provide student teachers. Earlier this year, the WESD governing board voted to end the contract after criticizing ACU’s anti-LGBTQ+ policies. The university sued, with representation from the anti-LGBTQ+ hate group / law firm ADF. Facing a cost-prohibitive legal battle, the WESD board voted to settle, reinstating the contract with ACU and paying them $25,000 in legal fees. To learn more about how our school boards are vulnerable to this kind of pressure campaign, listen to our most recent episode of Ask Smart People Smart Questions. The second story is in Peoria Unified, where two anti-trans board members forced the issue of trans-inclusive polices in their district, calling in protestors and bringing the matter to a vote. While their attempt to ban trans students from school bathrooms ultimately failed, they repeated their call the next meeting, even without an official agenda item. These kinds of disruptions have an impact, even when they don’t succeed in changing policy, and it’s important that we support our local leaders to set norms and to create inclusive environments for positive discussion.

Media & Events

Ask Smart People Smart Questions: Substance Use

6:30 pm - 7:30 pm May 24, 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+ people more likely to experience mental health issues, homelessness, and harassment, our community reports rates of substance use and abuse at roughly twice that of the overall adult population. Joining us for the event are three fantastic guests: Julie Gunnigle, an attorney and advocate; James Taylor, the president of LAMBDA Phoenix; and Kayla Kurti, a trainer with Sonoran Prevention Works.

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