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Amphi neighbors aim to help others fight for fit and habitable housing

Amphi neighbors fighting for good living conditions
Posted at 6:25 PM, Sep 15, 2023

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — During the heat of the afternoon, Missy Arroyo flips on her two swamp coolers and two fans that line the inside of her apartment. Without the fans, the already unbearable heat would be even worse. The thermostat dangles loosely from the living room wall, just feet away from the exposed wires from the power socket that juts out from the wall.

Her air conditioning and heating unit broke in January, which was the same month her lease began.

"The problem started in January when I went down there and said I don't have a heater," she said.

When the unit broke, the apartment complex gave her a swamp cooler.

"When I showed them my apartment was 110 degrees, it's is what they gave me," she said. "But there are no tubes to connect to the water."

This same afternoon, her grandchildren run to her and fall straight into her outstretched arms. Her place is more than just an apartment — it's grandma's house, she said.

"When my grand-babies come, I have to walk them through everything to make sure," she said. "Because I don't know if I could get electrocuted with those wires."

She's made several requests to the apartment complex over the past year.

"They say it needs to be approved by the owner and that alone took a month to get the approval," she said.

But recently, Hassan Clement knocked on her door. He's a neighbor and community activist that is trying to help people get fit and habitable housing. When his air conditioning broke, it took nearly five months to get that and other things in his place fixed. Now, he intends to spread the knowledge across the Amphi area.

"Our neighborhood association started a tenant empowerment program," he said. "It's like, 'each one teach one'."

He found himself knocking on Arroyo's door and they worked together to call code enforcement.

"That's what it is to empower each other to solve our problems," he said.

After a call to code enforcement, Arroyo got her air conditioning and other things fixed in the apartment. When asked about these living conditions, the apartment complex sent a statement to KGUN 9, which says they work "vigorously to ensure the care and safety of all our community and our tenants."

Malibu apartments statement
The statement from Malibu Apartments in Tucson.

Clement said they were able to get nearly 21 of the repair requests addressed. And Arroyo said she'll be working with Clement to help others in the same situations.

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Tina Giuliano is a reporter for KGUN 9. She is a native Arizonan and grew up in Scottsdale. Tina is passionate about storytelling and is excited to work telling Tucson's stories. Share your story ideas and important issues with Tina by emailing tina.giuliano@kgun9.com or by connecting on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.