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N4T Investigators: Rebate Debate - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

N4T Investigators: Rebate Debate

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It's supposed to help everyone, but critics and city officials alike admit the City of Tucson's rainwater harvesting is hanging some of the city's poorest neighborhoods out to dry.

"There is a disparity between low income and middle and high income neighborhoods and we need to make sure that disparity is bridged a little bit," said Tucson Councilman Paul Cunningham.

Since it began in 2013 more than 1,000 people have taken advantage of the city's rebate program. Of those 1,000 plus people though, a vast majority live north of Ajo Way.

"We noticed almost by the the first year that there was a lack of participation in the low income communities," said Tucson Water Department spokesperson Fernando Molina.

But while city officials noticed the disparity, News 4 Tucson investigators found out the city did little about it.

Cunningham says a program specifically designed to help low income residents take advantage of rebates seemed to be stalled for nearly 18 months.

"I think there were people withing Tucson water that - I can't say they didn't like the program - it just wasn't there first priority. There was some non-believers and the proof is in the pudding," said Cunningham.

Tucson water officials counter that while they did launch a pilot program to study the disparity, that program was hindered by a lack of funding.

Funding shouldn't be a problem this year though, more than $360,000 dollars has been budgeted for a loan income loan program.

A non-profit community outreach group has also been hired to help target low income and Spanish speaking neighborhoods.

We're ready to make this a great program that works for everybody in Tucson," said Molina.

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