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Tax Breaks for Dealing with Homelessness Under GOP Proposal

Arizona Republicans Push for Tax Breaks Amid Homelessness Crisis

Legislative Response to Homelessness Sparks Debate

According to tucson.com, Republicans in the Arizona legislature are advocating for municipalities to provide tax breaks to property owners who invest in mitigating issues arising from encampments of unhoused individuals near their properties. House Concurrent Resolution 2023, championed by House Speaker Ben Toma was endorsed by a party-line vote of 31-28 by February 28. A corresponding resolution in the Senate is pending a vote. Toma underscored the significance of the issue emphasizing the proliferation of homelessness in cities nationwide which has prompted the proposed legislation as a response.

Both Toma and Senate President Warren Petersen, sponsor of the Senate’s version of the resolution attribute the challenges faced by property owners to municipalities’ failure to enforce bans on public camping, loitering, and public intoxication. They argue that this neglect exacerbates the ramifications of the homelessness crisis impacting property owners disproportionately. This proposal seeks to address the financial burden placed on property owners by incentivizing them to invest in solutions to mitigate the problems associated with unhoused individuals congregating near their properties.

The debate surrounding this legislation underscores broader discussions on homelessness management, municipal enforcement and the responsibilities of property owners. As the resolution progresses through the legislative process, its potential impacts on addressing homelessness and alleviating the burden on property owners will continue to be scrutinized and debated.

House Speaker Ben Toma highlighted the city of Phoenix as an example of a municipality that had been reluctant to address homelessness until compelled by a court order. The emergence of a significant homeless encampment dubbed The Zone, prompted a Maricopa County Superior Court judge to mandate the city’s removal of over 1,000 individuals by November 4, 2023. Following some resistance, the city complied with the court’s directive. Toma, along with Senate President Warren Petersen, views the resolution as a means to empower property owners when municipalities fail to provide adequate public safety services in response to homelessness crises.

(PHOTO: Tax Breaks for Dealing with Homelessness Under GOP Proposal)

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Debate Intensifies Over Arizona’s Proposed Property Tax Refund Resolution

The resolution proposed by the Goldwater Institute initially aimed to allow property owners to seek a property tax refund or reimbursement for expenses incurred in addressing homelessness issues near their properties. However, concerns raised by Democrats and municipalities regarding the determination of decreased property values due to homelessness led to an amendment removing this provision. The revised legislation now pending a vote by voters in November continues to be positioned as a means for property owners to seek recourse when municipalities fall short in addressing homelessness-related challenges.

The proposed legislation would grant property tax refunds to property owners in municipalities exhibiting a “pattern or practice” of failing to enforce public nuisance laws related to homelessness. This has raised concerns particularly from the League of Arizona Cities and Towns, as it could force cities to choose between enforcing camping bans potentially violating court rulings or offering refunds to property owners. Critics argue that the resolution oversimplifies complex issues surrounding homelessness and could have unintended consequences such as diverting resources from addressing domestic violence incidents. Nonetheless, supporters emphasize the need to provide relief to property owners impacted by homelessness-related challenges.

During the vote on February 28, Rep. Quantá Crews, a Phoenix Democrat, highlighted that the proposed resolution doesn’t actually provide property tax refunds. While property owners could apply for and receive refunds, the total revenue collected by municipalities wouldn’t change, potentially leading to higher bills for other taxpayers.

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