The number of vacation rentals in Lake Havasu City has risen by almost 40% in the past year, but affordable housing throughout Arizona is continuing to plummet.

According to New York-based AllTheRooms, a group that promotes vacation rentals nationwide, Havasu has become one of the fastest-growing vacation rental markets in the U.S. In Havasu, homeowners have offered 460 more rooms for rent than in 2018, with an average price per night of $194. According to AllTheRooms data, Havasu homeowners received $8.67 million in bookings from May 2018 to May 2019, representing a growth of about 55% during that time frame.

The group says that a major contributing factor for the rising demand for vacation rentals in Havasu may be a decline in mortgage rates this year, continuing a downward trend that began in 2011. Lower mortgage rates, according to a report from AllTheRooms this week, have improved potential returns for investors in buy-to-rent properties.

Short-term rentals are a growing trend in the Havasu region, and according to Lake Havasu City Mayor Cal Sheehy, recent legislation by Arizona lawmakers will allow the city to manage them. Vacation-renters will be required to follow guidelines in Havasu such as providing visitors with a “good neighbor brochure,” paying proper sales taxes, and registering their respective rentals with the city.

For long-term renters, however, options have become fewer throughout Arizona.

“It’s been identified as an issue nationwide,” Sheehy said. “Short-term rentals are increasing in number, diminishing the availability of long-term rentals for local citizens.”

According to a March report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, an annual household income of $38,390 would be necessary to afford a two-bedroom long-term rental home in Arizona at fair market rent, and 78% of extremely-low income renter households suffer from a severe cost burden, defined as paying in excess of half their monthly income on rent. According to the Housing Coalition, the majority of such households are occupied by seniors and members of Arizona’s labor force.

Arizona has about 25 available, affordable rental units for every 100 extremely low-income rental households – about 32% less than the national average, the coalition’s report said. As of March, only Nevada and California had fewer such units available.

Sheehy and city officials have been speaking with Mohave County Housing Authority representatives in identifying solutions to Havasu’s affordable housing shortage.

“We’re always willing to work with developers interested in building homes here,” Sheehy said. “We’ve met with the Mohave County Housing Authority to see what kinds of projects could be built to provide some relief for citizens. We don’t have any specific plans in mind at the moment, but there are great opportunities in Havasu, and there is assistance for companies looking to build housing here. We’re in a great position to move forward if someone is ready to invest in a project of that type.”

According to Arizona Housing Coalition Research Quality Coordinator Joanna Sagar, affordable housing shortages are affecting rural areas especially.

“It’s definitely a big problem, and it’s affecting low-income households,” Sagar said. “Even if people can get vouchers for affordable housing – which are hard to come by, themselves – it’s very difficult to even find properties affordable enough to use them. The lack of affordable housing is impacting services that are trying to help the homeless, and rural communities are feeling it the most.”

Sagar says the Arizona Housing Coalition has attempted to work with state, local and federal officials to ease the housing struggle for Arizona’s lower-income renters, and advocates have made some headway. To challenge Arizona’s shortage in affordable housing, state legislators this year added $12.5 million to the Arizona Housing Trust Fund, which is budgeted specifically to provide grants for affordable housing and homeless services.

“Now they’re trying to figure out what to do with the money, and looking at what cities can do to incentivize property owners,” Sagar said.

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(3) comments

tomgarven

This comment was also been posted on another story today. It is all related. COPIED COMMENT. For years and years I have been saying we need to diversify our local tourism economy. On average here is what the Bureau of Labor Statistics has to say about the wages our area. BEGIN QUOTE "Workers in the Lake Havasu City-Kingman Metropolitan Statistical Area had an average (mean) hourly wage of $19.46 in May 2018, about 22 percent below the nationwide average of $24.98, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Assistant Commissioner for Regional Operations Richard Holden noted that, after testing for statistical significance, no wages in the local area were higher than their respective national averages in 22 major occupational groups. Seventeen groups had significantly lower wages than their respective national averages, including management; legal; and computer and mathematical.". END QUOTE Now it doesn't take a math genius to find out the difference is $5.52/hour. Multiply that by a 40 hour work week and then by 4.33 the number of weeks per month and we can see what people in our workforce should be making in Lake Havasu City. $5.52 X 40 X 4.33 = $956/mo. Is it any wonder people have difficulty paying rents in Havasu? While the business community might be doing well it has not been trickling down to our labor force. Therefor I would focus my fundraising on the business community since that is where the money is at. Just saying. Here is the link to the BLS website. https://www.bls.gov/regions/west/news-release/occupationalemploymentandwages_lakehavasu.htm At one time we had a chainsaw factory. About 600 good paying jobs if I remember correctly. Based on today's population we need about 1,000 jobs outside of our tourism industry to balance out our economy. However, no one in the community seems to want to improve the working conditions for our labor market.

mopeg

In 1999 my husband and I moved permanently to Havasu. I interviewed for a job, as a lighting store manager. They were ready to hire, but when they told me the salary, I giggled, and told them that wasn't going to happen. This is a quote from his response "Well you know it is Havasu". My response was "you guys have been telling yourselves that for so long you literally believe it." Needless to say, I could not stay in Havasu to work. So I was gone from my spouse for 12.5 years out making a real living. I returned home in 2017 only to find, not much has changed. Same low wages. Your point is well taken, and solidifies my comment. Rents are increasing to the point an average Joe can't pay them. Well "it is Havasu" after all.

mopeg

I have been discussing this issue wth all that will listen, to no avail. There is no affordable housing in Havasu. The price of a trashy rental has become ridiculous.This limits a sector of the service work force from living here. What will we do if we cannot hire a server, dishwasher, room attendant, retail clerk, or entry level employee, because they cannot afford a place to live. The City itself has opened up this wound by not adhering to their own rules for short term rentals. There is no accountability for those that do not register at the city. The best I've gotten from the compliance officer is "not much we can do but send them a letter". Where are the large fines for this activity?? Most cities charge huge fines for not registering, for not paying the taxes, and not adhering the to local rules. When are we going to get this right. Two things will happen with accountability, 1. people will register their homes, pay the license fees, and pay the taxes, and not everyone will turn their home into a rental because the fines are so large, and registering the home becomes financially unattractive. People complain about the homeless, which Havasu is on the increase, but we don't look at the dynamics of our city. What is the plan? Seriously, where is the plan for the future of our city and it's population. We spend millions on new developments, but have yet to address the monster in the room....it just continues to drive rental pricing up, and where is a master plan for controlling this, and controlling traffic on Hwy 95? Are we sure we have the right people in the right places, looking at the right issues of our time??? Can we slow growth just a bit, to increase our understanding of the issues with our infrastructure? I am an opponent of short term rentals, and make my voice heard. They ruin our neighborhoods, for those of us that are permanent citizens. Between the loud parties, trash and parking problems, either the city needs to fine these people, or figure out how to control it. If nothing else, create some revenue for our inconvenience. If we choose to allow this fast growing community with nothing more than being interested in the dollars and not the environment of the those that live here, we are nothing more than the "new" California.

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