Tucson Development Boom Threatens Displacement of Longtime Residents

Median rent in Tucson rose by 30 percent since a year ago, prompting fears of displacement among many residents struggling to afford housing.

July 6, 2022, 9:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


University of Arizona

Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

“Rents are going up all over Arizona, as they are across the country, but Tucson, once considered sleepy and affordable, has seen a particularly painful spike.” As Brenda Muñoz Murguia reports in Phoenix Business Journal, “The median rent in Tucson in June was $1,795, up 30% from June 2021, according to Zillow data as of publication.” This is leading many longtime residents to relocate farther from the city center to more affordable neighborhoods.

“The redevelopment and push for upscale housing has put particular pressure on west Tucson and downtown.” According to the article, “Older neighborhoods that traditionally were lower income and predominantly Hispanic are transitioning to market-rate housing, pressured by new developments in nearby areas, with apartments renting for as much as $3,000 a month.”

Murguia points to one major factor impacting the desirability of these areas: the city’s “Government Property Lease Excise Tax, or GPLET, a tool that gives the city authority to grant incentives to build in particular areas.” Since its inception, Tucson has entered into 24 GPLET agreements, some of which converted affordable senior housing to luxury rentals. It should be noted that a 2021 study by University of Arizona professor Gary Pivo “found that GPLET projects were not the cause of gentrification, mainly because they constitute a small part of downtown development. However, it also said the GPLET program could do more to help people and businesses being displaced.” Pivo’s report “said GPLET should look for opportunities to create affordable housing for people who earn less than $35,000 a year.” Anecdotally, the article features the stories of several Tucson residents who struggle to afford housing and have had to move as rents rose.

Sunday, July 3, 2022 in Phoenix Business Journal

A image of the World's Columbian Exposition overlayed with a picture of Keanu Reeves in the rain from the movie Point Break.

Keanu Reeves Set to Play Daniel Burnham in ‘The Devil in the White City’

Planning is going to get a new level of star power as a limited series adaptation of The Devil in the White City gets ready for television screens in 2024.

August 8, 2022 - Reel Chicago

Kids

Opinion: Aging Population, Declining Fertility Requires Long-Term Investments

Faced with the dire consequences of a one-two punch of aging populations and declining birthrates, one writer has suggestions for how policy can help ensure a better future.

August 9, 2022 - Financial Times

View from middle of street in downtown Telluride, Colorado with mountains in background

Marrying Urban Identity and Economic Prosperity

A new book posits that truly successful communities have a strong economic base and a firmly rooted sense of place.

August 5, 2022 - Governing

Sound Transit Seattle

Free Transit Starts September 1 for Seattle Youth

Sound Transit is launching a fare-free program for young riders in the hopes of educating and recruiting future riders and making schools and jobs more accessible to transit-dependent youth.

August 12 - Smart Cities Dive

Aerial view of California aqueduct snaking through arid hills outside Los Angeles

California Governor Outlines Plan for a ‘Hotter, Drier Future’

With California’s water supply expected to drop by 10 percent in the next two decades, Governor Newsom’s strategy calls for conservation and increased investment in water collection, storage, and desalination infrastructure.

August 12 - Los Angeles Times

Worker caulking cracks in a home window

Sealing the Cracks in Weatherization and Home Repair

Deferred home maintenance can lead to serious structural, safety, and health issues. A new program in Pennsylvania aims to fill the gaps in home repair and weatherization programs.

August 12 - Shelterforce Magazine

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.