/ Modified apr 8, 2024 2:01 p.m.

Progress is slow for Tucson’s housing assistance

Experts said more federal funding is needed to close the housing gap.

liz morales city tucson Assistant City Manager Liz Morales speaks at the groundbreaking of Milagro on Oracle, a low-income housing complex currently under construction on Aug. 27, 2023 in Tucson, Ariz.
Hannah Cree

Despite helping over 1,600 people experiencing homelessness last year, the city of Tucson’s Department of Housing and Community Development is still struggling to combat an overwhelming need for homeless assistance.

The numbers come from the Department’s 2023 Annual Report, a summary of the city’s various homeless outreach and assistance efforts of the last year.

In 2023, more than 200 people were moved from shelters to permanent housing by the City of Tucson last year. According to the report, that’s over 100 more individuals than 2022. But at the same time, over 20,000 people submitted applications for housing vouchers.

Dr. Keith Bentele with the Southwest Institute for Research on Women said this indicates a disparity between the need and available resources.

“The problem here is with the political leaders and the electeds, who are making resource decisions at all levels. Because the state and the feds have not been investing as much, it's a really big lift for the local government to make up that gap,” he said.

According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Pima County needs over 26,000 additional units of affordable housing.

1,200 units are currently in the planning stages with the city, according to the report. One of those is the Milagro on Oracle, where the No-Tel Motel used to be, but experts like Bentele said more federal funding is needed to make significant progress.

It’s hard to celebrate small wins when the existing problem is so big, Bentele said.

“Every single person who is re-housed to the existing HCD programs, every single one of those things is a huge success story,” he said. “But it is relatively small scale to the scope of the problem."

MORE: Housing, News, Tucson
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