This is part one of a series that explores housing in the Globe-Miami area and what is being done to address long-term growth to facilitate an expanded workforce in southern Gila County.
Future economic growth of the Globe-Miami area hinges on several factors, including infrastructure upgrades, potential community projects and addressing blight that exists in most southern Gila County communities.
Even as the region deals with housing shortages in certain demographic spheres, marketing campaigns instituted by Gila County and the City of Globe are in full swing, and two large infrastructure projects have been proposed to address local needs. The Cobre Valley Regional Aquatic Center (CVRAC) seeks to draw visitors to the area, and the Tri-City Regional Sanitary District (TRSD) to provide vital services to the unincorporated area between Globe and Miami.
Additionally, mining projects, such as Resolution Copper and expansion of Pinto Valley Mine, are expected to bring more jobs to the Copper Corridor over the course of the next decade once environmental studies are complete.
Should the stars align and current plans for future prosperity continue, community leaders believe there is a housing crisis that could only get worse if not addressed in conjunction with improvements intended to make Globe-Miami a draw for the entire region.
As vacancy rates in existing units is effectively a zero, more rental properties are needed to entice workers from other places—either temporarily to find out if they want to remain in the area long term or as they prepare to settle in—according to Debbie Cox, branch manager of Service First Realty in Globe.
Cox said the rental market also affects temporary workers who would rent here and spend money locally.
“We had an influx of need for one-bedroom apartments for temporary housing for the Pinto Valley Bridge project,” she recently said. “ADOT was looking for temporary units, but we don’t have them.”
Service First manages about 150 rental units and has long-term relationships with many renters and landlords throughout the community. Cox has been involved with property management in the Globe-Miami area for nine years and said as a rule, she fields 30-40 calls a day.
She said a lack of demographic information and standard cost per square-foot for properties can lead to fluctuations in rents that is confounding to newcomers and investors thinking about taking on construction projects.
“When you come here, you have to pretend you’re entering the Twilight Zone,” Cox says. “People us call completely unprepared [for the local rental market].”
An additional problem Cox sees is owners overestimating the worth of properties. That means units that could be occupied often wind up sitting on the market for long stretches of time.
“I had an owner who wanted $1,350 a month for a 3-bedroom, two bath unit, but I suggested he charge $1,200,” she says. “He wouldn’t budge, so the place sat.”
The rental situation can also have an adverse effect on businesses that want to set up shop and bring employment opportunities to Globe-Miami.
According to City of Globe’s Economic Development Department (EDD) Director Linda Oddonetto, earlier this year an outside business came to Globe in search of 5,000-square feet of commercial property and a three-year lease on 50 housing units.
“That just does not exist,” she said, at the time. “We are definitely in a housing crisis.”
The situation also leads to employee leakage, which happens when workers live in the Valley or other locations with more amenities, but commute to the Globe-Miami area.
Rental market aside, the areas that are most affected by the current situation are single-family and low-income housing.
Stacey Hererra Murry, proprietor of Kachina Properties in Globe, attributes leakage in part to technological improvements and a society that does not want to wait for future services.
“Technology has changed the market,” she says. “Cars and roads are better and people want things now.”
Additionally, minimum wage employees are not inclined to commute, unless they have a spouse, partner or family member with a higher wage job, so enter into the competition for low-cost housing.
“Not the single teacher, but maybe one married to someone who works in the mines is looking for a house to raise a family,” Hererra Murry says, adding, “The past 2-3 years demand has been good. A certain price range—$130,000-$200,000—we can’t keep in stock.”
Low-income and elderly residents are also experiencing the crunch, and, especially for those getting help from the government, the wait for housing can stretch into years.
Malissa Buzan, Director Gila County Community Services, sees the lack of low-income housing on a daily basis. Her office oversees Section 8 housing and helps low-income residents with emergency repairs and winterization of their homes and also helps them keep the lights on.
There is a three-year wait list for Section 8. The list is closed, but is updated on a regular basis. The housing rehabilitation list is two years, while those needing winterization have to wait one year.
For those fortunate enough to be at the front of the line, there are four mobile home parks and two apartment complexes with units devoted to low-income housing. If a developer wanted to come to the area to build, there are special tax credits to be had for a certain percentage of low-income housing added to the project.
“My view of housing in the Globe-Miami area is not a bird’s eye view, but it’s up close,” she says. “I see young kids moving to the Valley, leaving empty houses behind in the exodus.”
The housing stock left behind is often old and in poor condition with failing utilities, such as sub-standard electrical or broken septic systems that would cost thousands of dollars to repair, or cesspools that are no longer permitted in the state of Arizona.
Often, the elderly occupant of a house dies, leaving the property to a distant relative that will let the building fall further into disrepair, either for sentimental reasons or lack of resources to bring the house into modern building codes.
“It’s a cultural issue: A grandparent or great-grandparent will leave the house to the kids, then it deteriorates or they don’t take the title,” Buzan says. “They can’t get a mortgage and can only sell it as is.”
For that reason, Buzan chose to serve on the board of the TRSD, which is working to connect a large swath of the unincorporated area between Globe and Miami to a yet-to-be constructed sewer system.
“We can’t put money into homes with cesspools,” she says. “Originally, that’s why I become involved in the TRSD.”
The problem with abandoned or condemned houses is not exclusive to the TRSD map: every neighborhood from Miami to eastern Globe has some form of blight scarring otherwise healthy neighborhoods. By some estimates, there are as many as 300-400 abandoned homes in the area.
“There is an abandoned home crisis on a large scale,” Hererra Murry says. “It’s not intentional: It’s not one person’s fault or the town’s, it’s a natural progression. It’s not simple and it’s bigger than all of us.
Journalist, writer and editor who has worked for community newspapers for more than 15 years. After four years at Davis-Monthan AFB and a few years living in Tucson, moved to California to find his fortune. He is happy to be back in Arizona, in the mountains he loves.