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Tucson facing a housing crisis

homeless
Posted at 5:12 PM, Oct 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-21 09:58:15-04

TUCSON, Ariz. — Affordable housing is harder to find and homeless shelters are at capacity. Tucson’s Director of Housing and Community Development says things are bad now and could get worse as the pandemic continues.

Experts expect a possible wave of problems when the eviction moratorium ends. But the Tucson community is already facing a housing crisis.

“We can’t pretend it's not happening, and it’s not growing,” said Director Liz Morales.

Rent was up about 8% in Tucson before the pandemic hit, and now there are fewer vacancies. This means people looking for affordable homes have fewer options and landlords will favor people with higher incomes and better credit.

“Because of the eviction moratorium there aren’t a lot of vacancies. We have a very low vacancy rate in Tucson so there are not a lot of available units as people are looking.”

Morales says the moratorium on evictions has its downsides, but it has been crucial to keeping people in their homes. Section 8 housing is not even an option right now. People have been waiting on vouchers for years. “We are serving those who have been waiting for housing for a long time, so people who are needing affordable housing it’s not even available to them at the point.” Homeless shelters are running at about 50% capacity to meet social distancing guidelines. Morales says they are hitting that capacity daily.

“Our department is looking at funding some potential shelters or agencies who can open their buildings once the winter weather hits.” The federal eviction moratorium ends at the end of the year. Morales hopes it will be expanded. She says more funding is needed to bail out landlords who haven’t been able to collect rent, and she encourages them to start accepting Section 8 vouchers. "During a time when rents are limited, people aren’t able to pay their rent, our program provides guaranteed rent at the first of the month.”