News Flash

Human Services Case Studies

Posted on: February 23, 2023

Micro Estates

Tempe Micro Estates


The Tempe Micro Estates First Time Homebuyer Program is the result of a partnership between Maricopa County, the City of Tempe, and a local non-profit Newtown Community Development Corporation. The project includes the construction of 13 environmentally sustainable, single-family homes (600 square feet micro estates) which were sold to qualified, low-income buyers. Through multiple funding sources, the program was able to provide homeownership opportunities to households earning 120% or less of the Area Median Income (AMI).

The purpose of the program is to provide safe, affordable housing in the Tempe urban corridor to help build a strong, stable community. Homeownership provides both emotional and financial stability and over time, builds wealth and equity.

The outcome of the project includes 13 newly constructed Community Land Trust (CLT) micro estates, including one ADA unit, and 13 first-time homeowners in the City of Tempe.

Problem or Need for the Program

It is well documented that there is a severe shortage of affordable housing in the greater Phoenix area. At the same time, the region continues to see projections for population increases each year for the foreseeable future. Maricopa County Human Services is providing a variety of options to increase the stock of available affordable housing one unit at a time. The Tempe Micro Estates project represents a collaborative effort to ensure the continued affordability of housing options. For further documentation on the state of affordable housing in the Phoenix area, the population center for Maricopa County, see the accompanying document “Pollack Housing Study” by Elliott D. Pollack & Company issued in March 2022.

Description of the Program

Tempe Micro Estates are a small-scale, affordable, and sustainable housing project for low and moderate income residents of Tempe located at 1443 South Rita Lane. The Estates feature twelve (12) detached 600 square foot lofted 1-bedroom, 1-bath homes, with an additional one-story 600 square foot ADA unit. These units are designed for maximum flexibility, allowing for affordable, high-quality housing for artists, independent seniors, healthcare, restaurant, and other service workers who may work in Tempe but cannot afford to purchase other types of housing offered in the area.

Income eligibility is verified using W-2 statements, tax returns, verification of deposit forms with recent bank statements, and third-party verification in conjunction with recent pay stubs. Household size is documented with social security cards, photo identification, or birth certificates for all household members. Homebuyers must qualify for a loan with a private lender and attend homebuyer counseling (Newtown is HUD certified).

TIMEFRAME: The project was the result of four years of planning, design, and construction and close-out with an all-in budget of $3.3 million.


Application/market study12/06/2018
Execute 3 party Amendment with County and Tempe for HOME funds01/01/2020
Development Plan Approval-City of Tempe08/30/2019
Environmental Assessment revised07/22/2020
Submit complete application for construction permits10/30/2019
RFP for construction activities10/30/2019
Homeownership counseling/buyer preparation09/30/2020
Execute Resale Homebuyer Agreement11/28/2020
Construction of project12/31/2021
Sale of Units (Pre-sale and during construction)12/31/2021
Homebuyer financing secured12/31/2021
Maricopa County Final Inspection01/31/2022
Certificate of Occupancy01/31/2022
Final Close-out/Project Completion Form01/31/2022


  • 13: New CLT Homebuyers
  • 8: Buyers at or below 80% AMI (seven HOME assisted units)
  • 5: Buyers between 81% and 120% AMI
  • 62.7%: Average AMI of buyers at or below 80% AMI
  • 102%: Average AMI of buyers at or below 120% AMI
  • 80.87%: Average AMI of all buyers
  • 27: Average Age of Buyers
  • 31%: Percentage of Buyers with Female Head of Household

Race/Ethnicity of CLT Homebuyers

  • 38% Hispanic (of any race)
  • 23% multiple races
  • 15% Asian
  • 8% Black or African American

Employment areas of Homebuyers

  • Healthcare
  • Hospitality
  • IT/Technology
  • Marketing
  • Government
  • Education

Partners on the Micro Estates project include:

  • Newtown CDC
  • 180 degrees
  • Arizona Community Foundation
  • City of Tempe
  • coLAB
  • Cypress Civil
  • Edwards Mother Earth Foundation
  • Enterprise Bank and Trust
  • First Bank
  • LISC Phoenix
  • Sustainability Advisors
  • Wells Fargo

The County’s role in the project was through the Maricopa HOME Consortium (Consortium). The Consortium is made up of the cities of Avondale, Chandler, Glendale, Peoria, Surprise and Tempe, the Town of Gilbert, and the Urban County. The Consortium receives an annual allocation from HUD called the HOME Investment Partnerships Grant (HOME). The funds carry a restriction that a minimum of 15% must be allocated to certified housing developers known as CHDOs. The Consortium allocated both CHDO and urban county funds totaling $530,000 to help fill the subsidy gap in the Tempe Micro Estates project for 7 of the 13 units so that they could be sold to those families earning less than 80% of the Area Median Income.

  • The architectural drawings were produced in REVIT which is a real-time 3D Building Modeling Information (BIM) system.
  • HomeKeeper software package (based on the SalesForce platform) is used to track buildings, clients, and homeowners.
  • For Environmental Reviews the website most used is NEPAssit. This website is used to research environmental hazards, airport zones, environmental justice issues, and others.
  • Other websites used in preparing environmental reviews are based on ArcGIS databases.
  • The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) is also consulted for additional environmental factors.

The Cost of the Program

Tempe Micro Estates - Current Estimate as of 8/27/2021
Tempe, Arizona


SourcesTotal% of TDC
Sale of Units2,450,00074%
City of Tempe Reimbursement for Permits & Fees40,4281%
CHDO HOME (Maricopa County)254,8978%
HOME (Maricopa County)100,0003%
Wells Fargo Grant150,0005%
CDBG 2.0150,0005%
HOME 2.0172,1035%
Split cost of Trash Enclosure5,0000%
Edwards Mother Earth Foundation6,9500%
Permanent Grants1,019,378
Restricted Permanent Grants494,89714% of TDC
Unrestricted Permanent Grants197,3786% of TDC


UsesTotal% of TDC
PERMITS & FEES69,3272%

Maricopa County provided approximately $530,000 in funding for the Micro Estates project for construction costs through a grant from HUD’s HOME Investment Partnerships Grant funds. In addition to the County HOME funds, the City of Tempe donated the land that was purchased through HUD’s Community Development Block Grant program for $600,000, plus an additional $290,000 in construction costs.

Seven of the residences are owned and occupied by owners who earn 80 percent of Area Median Income (AMI) or a maximum of $44,250 for a single person. Qualifying buyers received a discount of between $48,000 and $88,000. The remaining six units were sold to owners earning between 81-120% AMI.

  • Their average mortgage is $800 per month plus $130 for the homeowner’s association and related costs.
  • The two-story 600-square foot homes are priced between $170 and $210 thousand depending on the buyer's income.

Results/Success of the Program

CLT houses are sold below the market rate to qualified buyers because the land remains in a 99-year trust. Homeowners lease the land for a small monthly fee. If the property transfers title, the resale price is restricted so that the sellers can make a profit, but the house remains affordable to the next homebuyer. Homebuyers are required to take homeownership counseling classes which provide pre-purchase homebuyer education. Newtown provides an ongoing homeowner support program, which offers a wide range of services to the first-time homebuyer. Newtown’s homeowner support results in a much lower rate of foreclosure than the general population. The outcome of the project includes 13 newly constructed Community Land Trust (CLT) micro estates, including one ADA unit, and 13 first-time homeowners in the City of Tempe.

For a compelling look inside one of these units, and to meet a Micro Estates homeowner, please view this blog and this video.

Tempe Micro Estates video

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