Tucson Helping the Homeless


There are multiple things that Tucson, Arizona is doing to address homelessness. A wide range of the homeless population in Tucson is on the North West side, and the increasing numbers have caught the public’s attention.  Oftentimes, someone who is homeless has trouble finding resources to take care of themselves, which can intrude on restaurants and businesses. But, is it really their fault?

The City of Tucson is engaged in helping the homeless. The city is taking the initiative to help; to increase shelter capacity, the city is currently buying two large hotels and just launched an online dashboard to help the homeless community. That’s not all – food banks and soup kitchens have also been opening, and volunteer rates are higher too.

“It’s very difficult for them to find housing and have housing that’s not just shelter but wrap-around services. So that’s one of the hotels as were in the middle of purchasing, the other is a 67-unit hotel,” said Liv Morales, City of Tucson Housing and Community Development Director.

Steve Juhan, the president of the Grant Road Industrial Center Owner’s Association, said he’s dealt with vandalism of two air-conditioning units that cost him $25,000 in damage, while other businesses in the center have had to pay for other repairs to their buildings because of vandalism they say is being caused by a growing homeless population. But again, often they don’t have the resources they need to care for themselves properly.

In a wash on the west side of Estevan Park and near  the Union Pacific railroad tracks, a community of homeless people has collected items for a makeshift shelter. Without a true shelter, they keep having to steal things and go into different buildings, just to live.

Luckily, across Estevan Park is the Splinter Collective, a community center that provides aid to the surrounding unsheltered population and has recently begun a partnership with Tucson. The center has a charging station and a free store with fresh produce and bread for the unsheltered community.

Natalie Brewster Nguyen co-owns the center and has developed an understanding of what she calls a “constellation of issues” that cause the homeless people at Estevan Park to reside there. “They are experiencing high levels of instability, trauma and violence,” she said, which results in mental health issues, substance-abuse disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder. “People got really scared, and kind of scattered to the winds, and people were traumatized and devastated,” she said. “When you see that happen, you also watch people who had been struggling to manage their substance-use disorder, have been struggling to manage their mental health.”  People across the city of Tucson could help with this through canned food drives, clothes donations, and money donations, then both the homeless and the county won’t have so many issues at all and no one has to be scared anymore.