Guest Editorial: 20 Applicants for Every Vacant Apartment

By Larry Kush

I recently read an article in a nationally published apartment industry report called Rent Cafe, which stated that Scottsdale” renters struggled to find an apartment in our city where they met an awful mix of high occupancy rates of 96.3%, and 20 applicants competing for every vacant apartment that on average, stayed available for just 25 days.”

Most any apartment owner you ask will tell you that an occupancy rate of 96.3% means that they are effectively full given that there is always a “turn around” period getting a vacant apartment ready for the next tenant.

20 applicants per vacancy!  I thought that cannot be true, so I called several local multifamily developers who verified that high number as correct.  These same developers also lamented that the root of the supply problem is with cities (such as Scottsdale) who are continually denying or discouraging new apartment development.

It is no secret that the entire Phoenix metropolitan area is experiencing record sales of new and resale single family homes that continues to grow driven by in-migration.  Currently, the Phoenix metro area is the No. 2 migration destination in the United States, second only to Miami Florida.

As home prices continue to skyrocket to unheard of prices, fewer families can afford a single-family home and are thus driven into the rental market, where they are finding fewer and fewer options from which to choose.

One of the unfortunate consequences of this unit shortage is that renters are looking to smaller and older 2-8 unit complexes where many elderly and service workers have been living for years.  This strong demand has resulted in landlords raising rents thus displacing the current tenants who cannot afford the increase in rent.

Scottsdale is an excellent example of this housing problem.  Many articles have been appearing in local papers (such as this one) about elderly tenants being forced to move out of places that they have occupied for many years.  This situation is not the fault of the landlords but instead the city of Scottsdale’s elected leadership.  Mayor Ortega with support of the likes of Council women Solange, Littlefield and Janik have shown their lack of leadership skills and a total lack of empathy for Scottsdale’s citizens and new-comers by continually blocking well designed and badly needed apartment projects throughout the city.  A great example being their refusal to support a recent application for a 250+ unit project on 92nd Street and Shea Boulevard by Kaplan Development.  This project looked to fill the need for housing for the large group of medical personnel located across the street at the Shea Medical Center.  Driven by a group of NIMBY’s (Not in my neighborhood) activists they denied these people a great place to live.

So long as cities such as Scottsdale continue to answer to a group of anti-growth, radical (some even say racist) individuals this housing problem will only grow worse.  Clearly new leadership is needed.


Larry Kush is a 45year Scottsdale resident as well as a former 6year Scottsdale Planning Commissioner and a lifelong advocate of affordable/fair housing