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Tucson Unified School District's new program helps student housing insecurity

Tucson Unified School District's new program alleviates student housing insecurity
Posted at 5:30 PM, Sep 08, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-08 20:30:10-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — The Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) is launching a new initiative called the Emergency Housing Support program, which helps students and their families dealing with housing insecurity.

They can apply for a four-day, three-night stay at participating hotels in the area, and may also qualify for gas cards and internet assistance.

The idea is families will have a buffer to figure out a more permanent living situation, while keeping kids' educations on track.

"When a child experiences homelessness or housing insecurity, it's devastating. It's a very traumatizing event," TUSD Superintendent Gabriel Trujillo shared. "It robs the child of innocence, it robs the child of optimism for the future, and most of all it robs the child of natural enthusiasm for learning."

There are about 1,800 families across the district who are currently displaced, living with family or friends, or staying in a facility where utilities are not consistently on.

Trujillo said this is a common occurrence for their student body.

“If we’re going to realize our mission of academic excellence for every single student, we also have to embrace the fact that there are barriers and obstacles inside and outside of the classroom that we have to do everything possible to address," he explained.

The district estimates with the grant it received from the American Rescue Plan, it can fulfill between 150 and 200 of these one-time lifelines each school year.

Although this isn't a one-size-fits-all solution, Trujillo beleives it's a step in the right direction.

"It’s not a permanent solution. It’s a multi-faceted problem that is going to take a lot of community support and city government support to solve," he said. "However, through this program, we can extend a helping hand to families in some difficult moments.”

Mikenzie Hammel joined the KGUN 9 team as a multimedia journalist in the summer of 2023. She graduated from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism with her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. With her passion for human connection and visual storytelling, Mikenzie is honored to share the stories of Tucson and southeastern Arizona. Share your story ideas and important issues with Mikenzie by emailing