Arizona To Distribute $508 Million+ To Support Those Facing Housing Instability
PHOENIX — Governor Doug Ducey today announced the appointment of former Phoenix City Councilman Tom Simplot to spearhead a new state effort to combat homelessness and housing instability as the Director of the Arizona Department of Housing.
Simplot, who once led the Arizona Multihousing Association, will succeed Director Carol Ditmore, who is retiring from state service. Simplot’s appointment is effective immediately.
The change in leadership at the department coincides with a significant new federal investment aimed at addressing homelessness and housing instability in Arizona: $508,400,000.
Governor Ducey announced today that these funds—as well as additional funds in the pipeline—will be deployed to assist renters, support homeowners experiencing financial hardship, and provide critical services to Arizonans experiencing homelessness or housing instability.
“With the appointment of Tom Simplot to Director of the Department of Housing, we’re moving full steam ahead on our efforts to support and protect vulnerable individuals and families,” said Governor Ducey. “Tom has years of invaluable experience and leadership in enhancing housing options and supporting populations in need. I look forward to working with Tom closely to ensure at-risk Arizonans have a roof over their heads. I’m grateful to outgoing Director Carol Ditmore for her service to the State of Arizona.”
Simplot has been in leadership positions in the private sector and in local, state, and federal levels of government. Most recently, Simplot served as senior deputy chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, DC. He was also a longtime member of the Phoenix City Council and served as President and CEO of the Arizona Multihousing Association, a statewide trade association for the apartment industry in Arizona.
In his role at the National Endowment, Tom served as Chief Operations Officer of a federal grant-making agency with more than 150 employees and a budget of more than $160 million. Simplot oversaw all grant-making programs, including Creative Forces, a healing arts network in partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense. While on the Phoenix City Council, Simplot focused on housing, arts, and economic development, and he led the effort to establish the first new-build permanent supportive housing apartment community in the City of Phoenix.
“My top priority is ensuring those in need have access to safe and reliable housing,” said Simplot. “I’m honored to join the Arizona Department of Housing and further the state’s efforts to help Arizonans struggling financially due to the pandemic, connecting those facing homelessness with safe living conditions, and ensure the needs of renters and homeowners are met. Thank you to Governor Ducey for appointing me to this role — I look forward to tackling issues and ensuring our state continues to move forward.”
Simplot was a resident of Arizona for 35 years prior to moving to Washington and was very active in the community, serving on the boards of the Valley of the Sun United Way, Valle del Sol, Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry, and Phoenix Theatre. He also served as President of the Maricopa County Board of Health and the Maricopa County Industrial Development Authority.
The funding being distributed by the state comes from the U.S. Department of Treasury and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“These funds will help families who are struggling financially, prevent and combat homelessness, and provide resources to those who are in unsafe situations. We will work to distribute these dollars quickly and effectively to ensure Arizonans are receiving the support they need,” the Governor said. “In Arizona, we’ve taken innovative approaches to combating homelessness and expanding opportunities for those who are struggling. We will continue to do so.”
Emergency Rental Assistance
The Arizona Department of Economic Security is focused on distributing $289,601.979.80 from the U.S. Department of Treasury to assist households that are unable to pay rent and utilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This program launched in February 2021 and is currently accepting applications. For more information, please visit: https://des.az.gov/ERAP.
The American Rescue Plan, passed by Congress in March 2021, included additional funds for this program. Arizona is currently waiting on additional guidance from the U.S. Department of Treasury, including the amount of the second allotment.
Homeowner Assistance Fund
The Arizona Department of Housing will distribute $196,984,339 from the U.S. Department of Treasury to help Arizona homeowners facing financial hardship due to the pandemic.
The funding will go toward monthly mortgage assistance; forbearance payoffs; financial assistance for bills related to utilities, internet and other expenses; and miscellaneous costs for insurance, homeowners association fees, and more.
Homeless Assistance and Supportive Services
The Arizona Department of Housing will distribute $21,818,662 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s HOME Investment Partnerships Program to combat homelessness in Arizona.
The funding will go toward the production or preservation of affordable housing; tenant-based rental assistance; supportive services for homeless prevention and housing counseling; and the purchase or development of non-congregate shelter for individuals and families experiencing homelessness.
Arizonans who will benefit from this funding include those experiencing homelessness, those at risk of being homeless, those fleeing domestic violence, human trafficking victims, and other Arizonans experiencing housing instability.