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.

2 minute read

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

Aerial view of homes on beach in Maui, Hawaii

Hawaii Passes First Legislation Regulating Short-Term Rentals Statewide

The new law will give counties the power to limit number or short-term rentals and convert existing short-term rental units back into long-term residential housing.

May 13, 2024 - USA Today

Entrance to a drive-through car wash at night with green 'Enter' sign.

Ohio Towns Move to Ban New Car Washes

City officials in northeast Ohio are putting limits on how many car wash facilities can open in their towns.

May 16, 2024 - News 5 Cleveland

Rail tracks on the left, rustic log-built train station painted reddish brown with a green metal roof and concrete platform on the right, evergreen forest and bright blue sky with fluffy white clouds in the background.

More Passenger Rail Coming to Montana

Planning is underway to restore a 45-year-defunct regional passenger rail line connecting southern Montana to Billings and Amtrak’s east-west Empire Builder line from Seattle to Chicago.

May 14, 2024 - 8KPAX

Aerial view of Oceanwide Plaza skyscrapers covered with graffiti tags.

LA’s Abandoned Towers Loom as a “$1.2 Billion Ruin of Global Capital”

Oceanwide Plaza, shuttered mid-construction after its developer filed for bankruptcy, has stood vacant on prime Los Angeles real estate since 2019.

4 minutes ago - The Architect's Newspaper

Close-up of back windshield of Waymo autonomous car.

NHTSA Launches Investigations Into Two More Self-Driving Automakers

The federal agency is responding to reports of crashes and erratic behavior from Waymo and Zoox vehicles.

1 hour ago - Smart Cities Dive

Texas Townhomes

Austin Reduces Minimum Lot Size

Smaller lot sizes for single-family homes can make construction more affordable and homeownership available to more households.

2 hours ago - The Texas Tribune

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Call for Speakers

Mpact Transit + Community

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

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.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.