The Need for Affordable Housing in Tucson
Affordable Housing is defined as a housing unit where the costs do not exceed 30% of household income. These households are often referred to as “cost-burdened”. Housing costs include the following components:
- Rent or mortgage payments
In addition to the costs of housing, transportation costs and the lack of available mass transit opportunities can make affordable housing unaffordable.
Key Affordable Housing Statistics in Tucson:
- Rental rates have increased by over 40% in the Tucson metro area since 2017 and median new-home prices hit a record high of over $320,000 in 2024.
- In 2023, there were more than 15,000 families on the waiting list for Section 8 (government subsidized) housing in Tucson.
- The poverty rate in the Tucson metro area was 14.9% in 2022. According to MAP AZ, this ranks Tucson 10th out of 12 western metro areas.
- In 2023, 51.1% of rental households in Tucson were cost-burdened (75,000 households). That is an increase of over 12,000 households since 2008.
- In 2021, 26.9% of Tucson renters were considered severely cost-burdened – paying more than 50% of their household income toward housing costs.
- According to a gap analysis of affordable housing in Pima County, a study which was commissioned by Family Housing Resources, Inc. (“FHR”) and performed by the University of Arizona – as of 2016, there were almost 91,000 more units of affordable housing needed to accommodate the lower-income households not currently living in affordable housing in Tucson. This number has continued to increase since 2016.
- A little over one in four children inside the city limits live in poverty – and over 60 percent of children from low-income families live in cost-burdened households homes that cost more than 30 percent of the family’s monthly income.
Why is affordable Needed?
Cost-burdened families are left with little cash available for other basic necessities of life such as food, transportation and healthcare. The financial pressure filters down into all areas of life. Studies have shown that affordable housing can greatly improve the quality of life and has the following benefits:
Household stability –
Affordable housing provides critical stability for low-income households paying over half of their income on housing, and lowers the risk that vulnerable families become homeless.
Economic security –
High housing costs leave low-income families with little left over for other important expenses, leading to difficult budget trade-offs. Affordable housing increases the amount that families can put toward other important household needs and savings.
Housing instability can jeopardize children’s performance and success in school, leading to lasting achievement gaps, while a stable environment contributes to improved educational outcomes.
Housing insecurity can have serious negative health effects on both adults and children.
Housing close to transit can help residents save money and access jobs and critical community services, while improving health.
Neighborhood Quality –
Affordable housing increases local purchasing power, boosts job creation, and generates new tax revenues.
The need for affordable housing in Tucson is great and will continue to grow even as the local economy improves. Providing Safe Affordable Living in Tucson will make an immediate difference not only in the lives of individuals and families but also in communities and the City of Tucson as a whole.