Posts Tagged ‘Low-Income Housing Tucson’


Sunday, September 28th, 2008

     I picked up the Arizona Daily Star this morning and read the headline “Tucson May Charge Fee on New Home Sales”,  had a gut reaction, hastily poured my cup of coffee, then sat down to read the article so as not to prejudge.

    A 1% (One Per Cent) transfer fee on all new home sales is being proposed by  two city Council  members, Regina Romero and Karin Uhlich.   The purpose is that the city’s housing trust fund,  be “used to pay for such things as home repairs and down payment assistance for low-income residents”, according to Rob O’Dell, who wrote the front page article.  

                      ” The new fee, recommended for approval by a council subcommittee on Sept. 15, would apply to any house or condomium unit where a builder has entered into a development agreement with the city.”

according to O’Dell’s article.

    (I would like to provide a link to this story so you, the reader, can have the opportunity to read it verbatim.  The Star, however, now requires a person to register in order to read the article.  If you want to read the article, register at:  and then pull up the article).

       This would not apply, as I read it, to development in Pima County.  

       My reaction was/is visceral.  I haven’t had such a physical reaction in months to anything.  This is being proposed by our elected officials in Tucson. 

     The Arizona Association of Realtors is working to get Proposition 100 passed by the citizens of Arizona which will prohibit, by Constitutional Amendment, a real estate transfer tax at the state level.  To do this, voters must vote YES on the Proposition.  A  copy of the proposition is at Jan Brewer’s website, Arizona Secretary of State.     


        Arizona, like many states, is in a budget crisis, as is the City of Tucson. Were Arizona to pass a 2% transfer tax on the sale of real property, and the City of Tucson were to pass the 1% tax, and the average price of a home in August was $238,504, the total transfer tax would amount to an additional $7155.  I think that is a lot of money!   There is nothing to prohibit the city from passing a transfer tax even if the state has a transfer tax.  

       (My cynical question is, do we mark up the price of the house by that amount so that the 3% fees can then apply to the more than $7,000 added,   and then house then becomes priced at $245,659 – and the tax is an additional $200.+.!   Does this make housing more affordable for the Average Joe?  Granted this is worse case scenario but I remember when Social Security was paid on the first $32,000 of a person’s income!)

     I understand this is not called a tax, it is called a “fee” – but it is not voluntary and therefore it is a tax!  

    Two other issues galled me when I read the proposal by Romero and Ulrich.  The huge bailout, okayed at midnight by Congressional leaders for which taxpayers are now on the hook, was partially necessitated by the lax standards and no money down mentality which had it’s origins in Lyndon Johnson’s New Society.   The guidelines of the Community Reinvestment Act, over the years, became looser and looser. Congress embraced the idea that the American Dream of homeownership should  apply to all Americans, regardless of ability to pay.   Both sides of the aisle are equally responsible.  Where else could you purchase something for $300,000 with zero down?

    The second source of irritation is the amount of money which was approved by Congress in the much touted Housing Bill which was supposed to help people in distress to prevent foreclosures.  That bill gave millions of dollars to towns and cities for the expressed purpose of low income housing, to buy up abandoned or foreclosed houses, or to build new low income housing for people within the low income, extremely low income, and very low income brackets.   I have read the nearly 700 pages of the Federal Housing Bill and have written extensively about it in this blog.  I suggest both Council people wade through that document and ask the federal government for what is Tucson’s just due.

     Affordable housing is an issue, to be sure.  Adding fees onto those people who are struggling to save ten percent to purchase a home in order to provide down payment assistance to low income residents just doesn’t resonate.  A family of four earning $60,000 and purchasing a property at the average price of a home in Tucson in August, with a 3% transfer fee -(assuming both city and state) would then fall into the low income category after than transfer fee is paid.   Other sources of revenue are proposed and listed below and I have provided resources below regarding low income housing and the income points.


Tucson Housing Fund:

 From the Report of the Tucson Housing Fund Trust – January 2008

Revenue Recommendations:

The current sources of funding are not sufficient to support an ongoing meaningful effort to address housing issues in Tucson. The CAC has prepared some preliminary recommendations to the subcommittee for future funding sources to support the THTF. We are prepared to work with the Mayor and Council to obtain other community input toward successful adoption of these or other sources of revenue the Mayor and Council wish to consider more closely.

1. Increase the Bed Tax by $1.00 per night. Dedicate this new revenue, estimated at $2 million a year, to the Trust Fund. There is a compelling argument in using revenues from visitors to support housing for Tucsonans. The employees of the hospitality industry are among many families that would benefit from the availability of more affordable housing options.

2. Pursue a change to the Model Cities Tax Code that would allow the City to implement a Residential Rental Tax on units that rent for $1,000 or more to support the THTF.

3. Request a voluntary contribution to the Trust Fund from all housing disciplines (Builders, Realtors, Lenders, Title Companies, etc.) at the closing of every home sold within the City.

4. Support state legislation that would dedicate interest earned on rental Security Deposits and earned interest on Escrow Funds from home sales within city limits to the City of Tucson Housing Trust Fund.


Program Criteria and Evaluation Considerations:

— Housing must be within the City limits
— THTF is limited to households that earn under 100% of the area income (see chart)
— Housing can be in the form of ownership or rental
— Proximity of proposed housing to employment or mass transit
— Leverage ratio of THTF funding to that of the employer’s
— Recapture policy
— Homebuyer Education/Counseling component

Household Size

Income limit