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Dec. 7, 2023

UArizona Poverty in Tucson workshop hosts 7th annual community forum

  • What: University of Arizona Community Forum: Evictions and Poverty in Pima County
  • When: Tuesday, Dec. 12, 9-11 a.m.
  • Where: Habitat for Humanity Tucson, 3501 N. Mountain Ave.
  • Registration required: Open to the public. Registration required.

TUCSON, Ariz. — The University of Arizona School of Sociology will host its seventh annual Poverty in Tucson Community Forum to shed light on the pressing issues of evictions and poverty in Tucson. This marks the culmination of a three-year partnership between the Tucson Poverty Project and Pima County's Department of Community & Workforce Development in assessing the impact of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, or ERAP, on households at risk of eviction.

Since 2020, Pima County, in collaboration with the city of Tucson, has allocated $88.6 million through ERAP to aid households affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, temporarily preventing eviction for approximately 17,000 Southern Arizona households. The expiration of federal funds from the American Rescue Plan this October has left thousands of households in Southern Arizona vulnerable to housing insecurity and eviction.

In 2023, 38 students enrolled in the Poverty in Tucson Field Workshop conducted interviews with 270 households that recently received ERAP assistance.

ERAP and Pima County's effective rental assistance efforts have helped keep households housed, but with their expiration come new challenges during a time of rising rents and stagnant wages, said Brian Mayer, professor of sociology and project director. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, median rents in Tucson have risen some 30% — far outpacing the small 4% in median household income in that same time.

"These funds were always assumed to run out and Pima County did a good job extending them as long as possible," Mayer said. "But now we're facing a situation where the thousands of households able to stay housed through this program now lack additional support. And although a statewide program through the Arizona Department of Economic Security can help households that are just now facing the threat of eviction, these 17,000 households in Southern Arizona are automatically ineligible from future help from the state. Likely, we will see many more evictions and people experiencing homelessness."

During the event, students will showcase posters unveiling preliminary data findings across multiple facets of housing insecurity. These include insights into mental health, food insecurity, caregiving needs, job security and housing quality.

The drop-in event will feature brief remarks from Mayer, starting at 9:30 am.

The Poverty in Tucson Field Workshop, a student-driven project, aims to enhance the understanding of poverty and poverty reduction initiatives in Pima County. Beginning in 2015, the workshop has collaborated with the city of Tucson, Pima County and local nonprofits, including Habitat for Humanity Tucson. Its focus is to gain insight into the ways low-income residents navigate challenges and sustain themselves in the Tucson metro area.

The community forum is free and open to the public.

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Researcher contact:
Brian Mayer
School of Sociology
520-626-2190

brianmayer@email.arizona.edu

Media contact:
Laurie Galbraith
College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

520-626-1219
lgalbraith@arizona.edu

The University of Arizona, a land-grant university with two independently accredited medical schools, is one of the nation's top public universities, according to U.S. News & World Report. Established in 1885, the university is widely recognized as a student-centric university and has been designated as a Hispanic Serving Institution by the U.S. Department of Education. The university ranked in the top 20 in 2021 in research expenditures among all public universities, according to the National Science Foundation, and is a leading Research 1 institution with $824 million in annual research expenditures. The university advances the frontiers of interdisciplinary scholarship and entrepreneurial partnerships as a member of the Association of American Universities, the 71 leading public and private research universities in the U.S. and Canada. It benefits the state with an estimated economic impact of $4.1 billion annually.

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College of Social and Behavioral Sciences