/ Modified jun 7, 2024 10:25 a.m.

Community activists protest Tucson budget over housing and homelessness

Meanwhile, members of the Tucson Crime Free Coalition said that the Tucson Police require additional funding to address homelessness and maintain public safety.

Homeless Protest City Hall A heckler engages with another audience member as Tucson Police interjects the argument at a city council meeting on June 4. The man was eventually escorted out of the building after booing several proclamation decisions.
Noor Haghighi, AZPM News

Community activists and mutual aid groups spoke at the Tucson City Council meeting on June 4 to advocate against the proposed FY 2025 city budget.

Advocates from Community Care Tucson and the Tucson Tenants Union said that the budget does not adequately support housing and homelessness initiatives in comparison to the funding allocated to the Tucson Police.

“The budget reflects that criminalization, that prioritization and [the] tendency to criminalize over centering care. And I wish we would shift away from that and I wish that our city council and mayor would choose to not stay willfully ignorant, but would instead try some of the solutions that community members and people who have experienced displacement are suggesting,” Ronnie Wollenzier a member of both Community Care Tucson and Tucson Tenants Union said.

Conversely, members of the Tucson Crime Free Coalition said that the Tucson Police require additional funding to address homelessness and maintain public safety.

Mayor Regina Romero and City Manager Tim Thomure said that they are committed to advancing housing initiatives, including Housing First services, emergency housing vouchers, and street outreach programs.

According to Thomure the city has, “a number of different housing projects and I know they take some time to complete. But we have about 1,200 new housing units under construction or in development in the city, which will help move the needle on that. And about 750 units of rehabilitation or affordable housing.”

In the city budget for FY 2025, $228 million is designated for the police, while $9.2 million is set aside for Housing and Community Development in the General Fund.

City officials pointed out during the meeting that there are state and federal dollars for housing and homeless projects in other parts of the budget. In all, those other dollars total close to $130 million.

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