More people searching for affordable housing and temporary shelter in Arizona will receive some much-needed help from the $15 million devoted to the state’s housing trust fund this year.

Plans for the money, announced Thursday, call for funding new homes for people who were homeless, including veterans, and housing for people with mental health needs.

This one-time bump is the biggest increase to the fund since the Great Recession in 2009.

“Arizona is committed to being a place of opportunity for all,” Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said in a statement. “Working together with public, private and nonprofit partners, these dollars will help expand housing options and help homeless Arizonans get back on their feet.”

Before 2009, the state’s housing trust fund had nearly $40 million in state dollars. A $2.5 million cap was placed on the fund in 2010 because of state budget shortfalls.

The state Legislature appropriated the additional money to the state’s Housing Trust Fund in June.

How the money will be spent

  • $3 million to build rental housing for people formerly homeless. The funds will be combined with federal money to provide as much as $10 million for these projects to be developed by nonprofits across the state.
  • $3 million to renovate an existing building on the Arizona State Hospital campus in Phoenix that will provide more transitional housing for homeless people with mental health issues.
  • $2.5 million to be paired with low-income tax credits to develop the affordable Center of Hope Apartments for mostly seniors and single people in a former hotel building in Tucson.
  • $3 million to renovate former officers’ quarters into a homeless shelter for veterans at the Ft. Whipple campus in Prescott.
  • $3.5 million to build a behavioral health residential facility for people who need mental health treatment and are ordered by the court to stay there. The facility will provide 24-hour care and treatment for residents.

The housing department will also use funds to continue its Rapid Rehousing Program that helps people with deposits for rentals as well as the Eviction Prevention Assistance program that provide financial and counseling to help people about to lose their homes.

“Every one of these investments will provide critical resources in expanding Arizona’s ability to help develop resources that will, over time, assist countless individuals and families to stabilize their living situations,” Housing Department Director Carol Ditmore said.

Arizona’s Housing Trust Fund has been supporting the state’s affordable housing programs since 1988. It’s funded from the sale of unclaimed property, including abandoned stocks and bank accounts.

Growing problem

A record number of people are homeless in Arizona.

According to Maricopa Association of Governments, which released its annual point-in-time count this week, there were 6,614 people experiencing homelessness on the night of Jan. 21 — 316 more than were counted last year.

For the sixth straight year, unsheltered homelessness — people living on the streets, in desert washes, vehicles or another place not meant for habitation — increased.