It’s July, which means Council is on recess until August.
I thought now might be an appropriate time to look back at what we’ve accomplished and where we’re going.
When I ran for office in 2016, I was asked what the biggest problem facing Flagstaff was. I said at the time it was undoubtedly the cost of living and I still believe that to be true. Any thriving community is one where workers and families can afford to live. Communities are safer when police, firefighters and other first responders protect their hometowns, when they know the neighborhoods. They are enriched when teachers can afford to stay. They are more vibrant with artists. A town with young families is livelier. I’ve long said that I want to work with the community to create a Flagstaff for everyone, from seniors on fixed incomes, to young folks just starting out, to the established CEO. I want my daughter to be able to stay here. To do this, we must figure out how to strategically accommodate growth in ways that benefit our community.
Northern Arizona University will continue to expand as long as the Board of Regents wants it to. There is very little we can do to curb that growth (the Board of Regents is appointed by the governor, who is up for reelection in November, if this concerns you). We also need to accommodate the growth that naturally happens over time. People have children, sometimes grandparents move to be closer to their families and sometimes people come for a job and bring their families. Currently, here in the city of Flagstaff we have a housing shortage. The people are already here and we don’t have enough housing, which, in turn, drives up cost.
This has been a problem not for years, but for decades. I am very happy to report that this Council finally found the political will to act. We negotiated to have 100 designated affordable homes built at Timber Sky. We successfully put out a scattered-sites request for proposal that was in-turn awarded tax-credits through the Arizona Low-Income Tax Credit program that will result in three new affordable housing developments in three neighborhoods here in Flagstaff. We set aside $100,000 to help establish a fund for families who are displaced from the closure of trailer parks. And most recently, we sent a $25 million Affordable Housing Bond question to the ballot for Flagstaff citizens to decide on. The bond will include assistance for those who might be a bit better off but are still priced out of Flagstaff’s housing market.
Poverty with a view is not going to be solved overnight but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try, that we are not obligated to try. I will continue to try to make this a town that welcomes the new businesses, the workers and families of all backgrounds. I will need your help to do it (and am always interested in hearing your ideas!) so from now until the fall, please everyone, stay engaged in this important community discussion and remember to vote in November in a way that reflects your values.
Thank you! FBN
Coral J. Evans is the mayor of Flagstaff.