Newsroom | Message From the Chair, February 2024

MAG News

Mayor Kate Gallego, MAG chair, discusses reducing homelessness, improving air quality, and planning our future transportation system in her quarterly Message From the Chair.

Reducing homelessness. Improving air quality. Planning our future transportation system.

Regional Council, Chair Message

MAG continued several significant efforts this quarter to better the region we call home.

In January, MAG coordinated the regional Point in Time count to help identify the number of people experiencing homelessness in the region in a given period. I want to commend the hundreds of volunteers across the Valley who participated in the count this year amid challenging weather conditions. I accompanied one of the incredible Phoenix teams during the count, and it further underscored the urgency of the mission before us. 

Pathways Home CoverWhile the annual count is just one important snapshot in identifying homelessness trends, we know that gathering data is how we can continue to drive progress. As MAG brings together Valley leaders to confront homelessness head-on, monitoring and assessing trends can help us better understand the challenge and ultimately inform our policy decisions. Local governments, nonprofits, service providers and Continuum of Care members continue tirelessly working together to reduce homelessness in the region. While we have made significant progress in increasing housing options throughout the Valley, rents and mortgages still remain out of reach for many lower income and middle-income workers that help power our economy. I support the measures outlined in MAG’s Pathways Home plan to reduce homelessness by 25 percent by 2027. These steps include a commitment to working together to increase safe housing options, support diverse partnerships, and more.

Priority Climate Action PlanProtecting public health also remains a priority for MAG, which is hard at work completing the Priority Climate Action Plan by March 1, 2024. Most recently, we completed a major piece of that plan thanks to the development of a draft greenhouse gas inventory for Maricopa and Pinal counties. The action plan empowers eligible entities, including MAG’s member agencies, to apply for grant funding for programs and measures to improve air quality. I want to extend my gratitude to all of the partners who worked with us on this in the short time frame. 

Regional Strategic Transportation Infrastructure Investment PlanFinally, we continue preparing the foundation for the next round of investments as outlined in the Regional Strategic Transportation Infrastructure Investment Plan. In November, Valley residents will determine whether to fund these investments when they vote on Proposition 479, the continuation of the dedicated half-cent sales tax for transportation. If approved, revenues would begin January 1, 2026. In advance of those potential revenues, MAG is hard at work developing the framework needed to implement the projects and programs funded through the extension. This includes development of the three statutorily required life cycle programs — Freeways, Arterial Streets, and Transit — as well as establishment of regional competitive programs. This groundwork ensures that we stand ready to advance our transportation progress if granted the opportunity. 

I continue to wish all of you a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2024.

Published February 14, 2024