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Tucson opening waitlist for public housing, Section 8 vouchers on Tuesday
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Tucson opening waitlist for public housing, Section 8 vouchers on Tuesday

Window marks first time applications accepted since 2017

  • The Martin Luther King, Jr. Apartments in Downtown Tucson are among the few that accept federal Section 8 housing vouchers in Tucson.
    Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.comThe Martin Luther King, Jr. Apartments in Downtown Tucson are among the few that accept federal Section 8 housing vouchers in Tucson.

People can apply for a spot on two city of Tucson housing waiting lists online or in person starting Tuesday at 9 a.m. Applicants will be selected with a lottery once the application window closes on Jan. 24.

Thousands of applications are expected. The applications will be to gain a spot on either the waitlist for Section. 8 housing vouchers, or the waitlist for city of Tucson-owned low-cost apartments and single-family housing.

The waiting lists for both Section 8 vouchers and affordable units have been closed since 2017, as the city ran low on funding needed to continue assisting new tenants.

The city has about 5,200 housing vouchers available to help low-income tenants afford rent in private housing. Tucson also owns about 1,500 housing units spread out among about a dozen properties.

A lottery system will be used to pick people to have their applications reviewed and be added to the waiting lists.

Applicants will not be required to provide Social Security numbers or any form of payment. One application may be submitted per household, and duplicate applications will be removed.

Applicants will be asked to submit information such as:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Date of birth
  • Preferred contact method (phone or email)
  • Information on family members
  • Household income
  • Veteran or disability status (if applicable)

The online application can be done through a city website launched in November for the housing applications.

People can also apply by visiting locations spread throughout Tucson and Pima County, including in Ajo, Pictures Rocks and Catalina. A map of locations where people can apply is available on the same website where people can apply.

People who need transportation to get to those locations to apply are encouraged by the city to contact Sun Tran Customer Service at 520-792-9222. The Sun Tran Customer Service will connect callers with their Eligibility Office to see if they can use the Sun Van. Persons with disabilities can request transportation at TDD (520) 628-1565

Tucson housing staff and other services providers will offer assistance with the application for those who visit the onsite application locations.

The online and onsite applications will be available in English, Spanish, Arabic, Swahili, Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese, Korean and Vietnamese.

People can also request other formats for application, such as paper applications, large print, in braille, with translation or interpreting services, and other alternate needs are available for those who need it.

Those requests for other formats can be made by emailing TucsonWaitingList@Tucsonaz.gov or calling 520-791-5840. If the phone line is busy, people can leave a message and expect to hear back in 24 hours, according to the city of Tucson.

For the deaf or hard of hearing, people can contact AzRelay 7-1-1.

People can apply for a specific waiting lidst or both. Some housing units have different requirements such as household size.

Applicants will get confirmation numbers, and the city being sure to save this number by both writing it down and emailing it to yourself at the end of the application process.

The city of Tucson assures that people don’t need to rush to submit their waitlist applications because most will be done online and selected via lottery. No advantage comes by doing it early in the submission window, but only those submitted during the three-week period will be accepted.

Tucson is allowed to give preferences to people living and working in the city or Pima County, however, as well as to the elderly and disabled. The city uses a point system to prioritize those applications.

The first round of the lottery will start in February and will be done monthly thereafter. The selections will be done by a computer.

Once selected, applicants will have to go through a process to make sure they’re eligible for housing vouchers or city-owned units. Qualifying for either is based on income guidelines.

“It is my greatest hope that this information reaches every person in Tucson and Pima County. We need our community to help spread the word,” Liz Morales, the director of Tucson Housing and Community Development, said. “Rental housing assistance is a valuable resource which the City is anxious to get out to those who need it the most.”

A list of city-owned housing is available on the last pages of the city’s public notice about the opening of the waitlists.

In recent months, the city of Tucson has changed their housing policy in notable ways. For one, landlords throughout the city cannot turn down applicants because they rely on Sec. 8 housing vouchers or any other form of assistance, though Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich tried to challenge that policy during his final days in office.

The city of Tucson also started enforcing evictions in their public housing units again after suspending rent collection during the pandemic. Nearly 200 residents of city-owned housing were behind on their rent as of Aug. 1.

Bennito L. Kelty is TucsonSentinel.com’s IDEA reporter, focusing on Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access stories, and a Report for America corps member supported by readers like you.

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