Posted: Sep 17, 2013 9:24 PM by Rebecca Taylor
Updated: Sep 18, 2013 1:56 AM
AJO - The historic town of Ajo, Arizona is making national headlines.
A new housing development, built for Border Patrol agents is stirring controversy and spurring tough questions from Arizona lawmakers.
Tax payers footed the bill for the housing complex, totaling nearly $13 million. Each of the 21 homes cost more than $600,000 a piece. Similar size houses in Ajo go for $100,000.
Senator John McCain calls the cost of the two to three bedroom homes "disgraceful".
While folks who live in this former mining town have mixed opinions.
Four rows of colorful homes, but that's not the only reason they stand out.
At $605,000 a piece, on the tax payers dime, neighbors are talking.
Ajo Resident Paul Crawford says, "My feeling and I think a lot of local residents concur, it was an extravagance and unnecessary extravagance."
Pastor George Kraft says, "Having the Border Patrol here, makes everybody feel safer I think."
The homes range in size from 1,200 to 1,600 square feet.
While some call the complex a multi-million dollar waste, Pastor Kraft says the 21 energy efficient units will give Ajo's housing market a boost.
"Anytime there's imported technology or housing, whatever it might be, it should definitely be a plus," says Kraft, "Because it's going to bring values of properties up."
Several Arizona lawmakers don't see it that way.
In a letter, to CBP's Acting Commissioner, Senator John McCain is demanding answers, spelled out in 11 questions. The first being: who had final approval of the project?
According to McCain, the CBP has been quoted as saying each home's cost was approximately $167,000 a piece. But the actual cost was significantly higher.
CBP purchased 12 existing homes, bought out leases and relocated homeowners totaling $13 million.
News 4 Tucson reached out to CBP for specifics on the complex, including how many homes are occupied, and how much rent agents pay. So far, we have not heard back.
Crawford, an Ajo resident for more than a decade, feels Ajo had plenty of existing homes for sale and rent.
"Border Patrol people, homeland Security, as one realtor described it, are somewhat spoiled," said Crawford.
According to Senator McCain's letter CBP plans on building an additional 25 homes in Ajo.
No word yet on a location, or financial details surrounding that project.
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