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Pinal County’s population grew rapidly in this century because of a land shortage to build homes in Maricopa County and the fact that land was cheaper in Pinal. That is still the case, although housing in Pinal has become less affordable. Since the Great Recession, when a huge inventory of homes that had been abandoned and foreclosed upon had to be sold off, prices have been rising and construction has restarted.

Hopefully, consumers will be smarter this time and not pay more than the true worth or more than they can afford for a place to live. No one wants another housing bubble and the related crash.

Data reviewed last week by the Pinal County Board of Supervisors showed that in the last year, a third of home sales in Pinal were in the $200,000 to $249,000 range. Fewer than 10% were in the $140,000 range. Also, there was a severe shortage of homes below that price.

After the housing crisis, many young people preferred to rent rather than buy. However, Pinal’s data shows that now, an annual income of $40,520 is needed to rent a two-bedroom apartment.

The board was discussing how it might use its annual Community Development Block Grant funding from the federal government to encourage construction of more affordable housing. Supervisor Steve Miller, who formerly was a builder and worked with affordable housing years ago, said that many subdivisions have standards that raise prices. These include not allowing homes with shingles and air conditioners on the roofs. And he pointed out that builders, if allowed to do so, will construct what sells.

Home prices rose 10.7% in Pinal last year and are projected to go up another 5.5% this year. The supervisors agreed that affordable housing should be encouraged.

Pinal has some really nice, expensive housing, but it cannot all be that way. More emphasis on affordability is overdue.

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