The Investigators

Aug 26, 2013 1:06 AM by Tom McNamara

Tucson taxpayers not cashing-in on real estate price turnaround

You may have noticed that 'For Sale' signs are springing up in your neighborhood, like patches of summer weeds.

Homeowners have waited for better times, like now, to cash-in on their properties.

But you might not realize, the City of Tucson owns hundreds of homes, some of them unoccupied.

Yet, taxpayers are not cashing-in on the real estate price turnaround.

To be more exact, the City of Tucson owns about 1800 units, and they're rented to low to moderate income residents.

Andrea Ibanez heads-up Tucson's Housing and Community Development program.

She tells the News 4 Tucson Investigators, "the need is very great. On our public housing list, we have about 4,000 names, and they don't move an awful lot."

The city-owned homes are not grouped together, rather, they're spread all over Tucson.

The reason, says Ibanez, "if you're driving in a neighborhood, you wouldn't know that one unit is owned by the city, or it's owned by the homeowner, and that's very intentional. We really want to integrate low and moderate individuals into the fabric of the neighborhoods city-wide"

Ibanez tells the News 4 Tucson Investigators, just under eight-percent of the houses the City of Tucson owns are not occupied.

But the city won't sell those homes, because many were bought with Federal money. That money, says Ibanez, must stay in the housing program. So the city would essentially have to re-invest any house sales proceeds into another property.

Ibanez says, City of Tucson workers take care of maintenance on the city-owned homes, and inspect them once a year. So do the Feds, who enforce minimum standards to keep the homes livable.

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