It was a festive morning celebrating an important change in north Phoenix: the grand opening of UMOM New Day Center’s latest affordable housing complex, 19West.

The brand-new building, located near 19th Avenue and Glendale, offers 54 two- and three-bedroom apartments to families and individuals in need. Each unit is spacious and gorgeous, with a large kitchen, new appliances, and a washer and dryer in each apartment! The campus includes a large community room with an enormous patio and kitchen, study rooms, music practice rooms, exercise areas, computer labs and a food pantry.

The units are considered ‘affordable’ because they will be leased at 40% to 60% of AMI (Area Median Income). Most apartments in Phoenix are priced between $700 to $1500 per month; by comparison, 19West units are well below that range at $550 to $1000 per month.

It’s important because the need is great. Arizona was recently rated 3rd worst in the nation for affordable housing and the city of Phoenix has the 2nd highest eviction rate in the nation (only Memphis is worse).

UMOM CEO Darlene Newsom said, “It’s not a surprise to anyone that metro Phoenix faces a severe shortage of affordable housing. Without this kind of affordable option, people can end up in unsafe or inadequate housing, far from school or work. Too often, they’re living paycheck to paycheck with no sign of relief. One job lost or one missed check and they’re right back where they started.”

New 19West resident Susan Goeser knows the problem too well. After losing her job, her house and her husband in less than a year, she found herself living in her car. She later bought a $3 tent and camped in a desert preserve area for $22 a night, simply because she had nowhere else to go. “This is the first time I’ve slept in a real bed in weeks,” said Susan.

Phoenix’s new Mayor, Kate Gallego, voiced her appreciation for the new complex and for UMOM’s focus on families. She said, “It is certainly hard enough to be a parent when you’re facing challenges with affordable housing. I’m proud that this is the kind of solution that Phoenix can offer.”

The desperate need for affordable housing is underscored by the fact that on the day of the grand opening, approximately 35 of19West’s units were already leased. The building is expected to be full within the next two weeks.

To further aid families and individuals in returning to stability, 19West will also offer a variety of classes and services including monthly computer training, job-search training and financial literacy.

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