Paul's Ward 3 News and Updates
Friday, August 14, 2020
News and Updates
Pet of the Week
Ward 3 Neighborhood Association/Coalition Meetings
Ward 3 Events
Did You Know?
Ward 3 News and Updates
Like many of you, I remain concerned and hopeful that Tucson will see additional rain this season. It’s not looking good. It is important that we take pause during these increasingly hot summers to recommit ourselves to mitigating climate change and, where necessary, developing opportunities to adapt to an increasing dry, hot future. I hope to share more about the work my office is engaged in to push the dial on climate change locally, but today I’m mostly focusing on how the Federal Cares Act dollars are working for Tucson residents.
Keep reading to learn about important investments by Mayor and Council that will provide support to struggling households. You will also learn about a great volunteer opportunity in Ward 3, updates at the Tucson Convention Center and a creative multi-neighborhood intervention to improve the quality of life in the surrounding area.
Ft Lowell/Country Club Safety Meeting Making a Difference in Midtown
I often like to devote portions of the Ward 3 newsletter to our residents and city employees who are working to make a positive difference in our neighborhoods. Today I want to introduce you to Fran Garcia, a 40-year resident of the Cabrini neighborhood, and Tucson Police Lieutenant James Brady of Operations Division Midtown (ODM).
About a year ago, residents living in the neighborhoods surrounding the Ft. Lowell-Country Club intersection, came together to talk about what could they do to stem the increase of criminal activity in the area.
“There were things that I had no idea were happening,” Fran said.
Enter Lt. Brady and officers from ODM.
The spike in crime clearly indicated that there was something present in and around the intersection that was attracting new and troubling criminal activity. But instead of the Tucson police going to the residents to tell them how to fix the problem, Lt. Brady said ODM flipped it around and asked the residents to help the police.
The result of the new relationship is that crime has dropped in the Ft. Lowell-Country Club area, Lt. Brady said. Neighborhoods communicated with each other, and the collective group communicated with ODM.
“We were there to listen. You tell me what’s going on,” Lt. Brady said about the new working relationship.
From listening to neighbors, undercover and plain clothes police officers were assigned to ferret out the thefts. Subsequently the investigation revealed that a nearby thrift store was the focal point where stolen goods were taken and resold, and drug selling activity as well. The store was shut down and individuals involved were prosecuted.
“I love that what we bring to TPD is dealt with,” Fran said. She added that the successful police intervention would not have happened if the neighbors, renters, business owners, and police had not started the Country Club/Ft Lowell Safety Group.
Before the pandemic, the group met at St. Francis Cabrini Church at 3201 E. Presidio Road. The group now conducts virtual meetings on the fourth Monday of each month. The group is modeled after the Alvernon-Grant Initiative which has been active for several years. There are two more similar community-police groups in the city.
Lt. Brady is a big fan of this type of community policing, where residents and business owners work closely with police officers. “It gives the police department the opportunity to solicit input and for the community to inform police of what’s going on,” he added.
It improves the quality of life for residents and businesses, and it helps ODM better allocate officers and resources, he said.
Both Lt. Brady and Fran believe this model of cooperation has great potential for other areas in Ward 3 and across the city.
“I’m thankful we have it,” she said. “I think it’s terrific.”
Since I was elected to the City Council to represent Ward 3, I have focused as one of my top priorities how to reduce the number of people who don’t have shelter, how to get them proper shelter and the minimize the impact that homelessness has on our neighborhoods. I have also been a big supporter of our city’s most critical healthcare partner: El Rio Community Health Center.
Wednesday I joined several members of El Rio’s health team to celebrate National Healthcare for the Homeless Outreach at a southside hotel that our city’s Housing and Community Development Department has been using to provide shelter for homeless individuals during the pandemic. El Rio staff distributed nearly 80 bags filled with snacks, socks, soap and other personal toiletries to the individuals staying at the hotel.
Ward 3 Council Member Paul Durham, in the orange shirt, with several El Rio Community Health Center employees and Ward 3 council aide, Ernesto Portillo.
I also want to congratulate El Rio as it celebrates 50 years in providing quality health care for all Tucsonans. El Rio began working out of a small county building, the old Mother Higgins juvenile detention center, on the I-10 frontage road south of Congress Street. Founded by Dr. Herb Abrams of the University of Arizona’s College of Medicine and community activists such as Julia Soto, El Rio has become a critical component in addressing the health our community’s health challenges.
Today, El Rio, which I use for my medical care, is one of the largest federally qualified heath centers in the country. It operates with an annual operating budget of about $180 million and cares for more than 113,000 people, both insured and uninsured on a sliding scale, in 12 facilities across the city. Next year El Rio will open its newest clinic at the former Wells Fargo site at Dodge Blvd and Grant Road in the Dodge Flower neighborhood. During the pandemic El Rio has been providing thousands of COVID-19 tests.
Join me in celebrating and congratulating El Rio Community Health Center for a job well done and we wish it well in its next 50 years of service to Tucson.
Tucson Convention Center Improvements
Ward 3 friends and neighbors, if you have been like me, you haven’t ventured out much from your home during this pandemic. But when you have left your home, most of you, like me, haven’t gone far, say like downtown. For all of you who haven’t ventured into downtown Tucson, I would like to bring you up to date on a major project: the second phase of the makeover of the Tucson Convention Center.
This is a significant effort to revamp and upgrade the city’s TCC Campus. Under the direction of the Rio Nuevo, its board of directors last year approved a $65M master plan. The new changes and additions include two parking garages, interior renovations of the existing convention center, 25,000 square feet of meeting room addition adjacent to the existing South Exhibition Hall, renovations for both the Music Hall and Leo Rich Theater, improved accessibility for the entire site. This is in addition to the privately funded 170-room Double Tree Hotel currently under construction at the TCC.
Construction of the new Double Tree Hotel at the TCC, at the corner of West Cushing Street and South Church Avenue, is expected to be completed late this year.
One of the most exciting changes, however, doesn’t involve a new building or adding indoor meeting rooms. The new changes include the restoration of the TCC plazas and fountains, between the Leo Rich Theater and Music Hall, and north of the Leo Rich. The design team and architects and others considered the landscape changes and opportunities to restore the original Garret Eckbo design intent. The changes will include new water harvesting, accessibility, and safe lighting while maintaining the existing historic features. Some plant species from the original late 1960s design will be replaced with plants that tolerate our arid climate. The existing brick pavers along South Church Avenue on the east side of the TCC are being removed and will be reinstalled later this year.
One of two new parking structures going up at the TCC.
I am looking forward to visit the renovated TCC when it reopens after we get past the pandemic. And remember, the best way to beat back the pandemic is to mask up, wash your hands and limit your exposure to people.
For more information on the Rio Nuevo Multipurpose Facilities District and other Rio Nuevo projects visit the Rio Nuevo website.
City of Tucson Use of Federal Cares Act monies
This next week new programs will launch to help struggling families in Tucson. I am very pleased to have supported these efforts at Mayor and Council.
Workers and Families Assistance
On Tuesday of next week, the Resiliency Fund program for Workers and Families opens. This program will help keep Tucson households stable during the pandemic and related economic recession. Please feel free to share these images below with your networks.
Rental and Utility Assistance
As regular readers know, my colleagues and I have allocated $5 million for rental and utility assistance and eviction prevention. Both programs will be live on Monday, August 17. Accessing the rental and utility assistance can happen through a single entry point
While Governor Ducey did extend his moratorium on evictions, this order requires tenants to show proof that they are applying for rental assistance in order to hold off an eviction. As part of the rental assistance program, agencies will provide the needed proof to the landlord to ensure that the eviction proceedings are halted. The moratorium on evictions in Arizona is in place until October 31, 2020.
In addition to standard rental and utility assistance, the City of Tucson is also piloting a program to stop evictions that are already moving through the court. This program works directly with our three constables in the City of Tucson—Constables Bernal, Randall and Ferguson. The constables will directly refer households that are in eviction proceedings to agencies who are working with the City of Tucson or Pima County to provide a rental assistance and vacate the eviction whenever possible. I hope that this program can also provide some insight into how, as a city, we can begin to reduce the high rate of evictions that we experienced before the pandemic as well.
Removing Barriers for Residents Experiencing Homelessness
This week Mayor and Council approved the use of an additional $5 million in HUD Cares Act dollars to support houseless individuals in our city. These efforts are comprised of two primary approaches. The first is to provide safe spaces to isolate for individuals who are either medically vulnerable or who have been exposed to COVID-19. The second is to place these individuals into permanent housing as quickly as possible based on their health situation.
Accordingly, the City’s Housing and Community Development Department is operating an isolation hotel program in collaboration with Old Pueblo Community Services, Community Bridges, Primavera, Catholic Community Services, and Pima County Sullivan Jackson Employment Center. There are currently three hotels on contract to place high risk or COVID-19 positive persons who are experiencing homelessness. As of Tuesday, we were assisting 263 households, or a total of 322 people. Since the start of the program over 781 households have been sheltered and 155 individuals and families have transitioned into housing or other stable situation.
This is a huge undertaking and it would not be possible without the support of the Cares Act passed by Congress last spring.
The City of Tucson is also investing Federal Cares Act monies in public WiFi. I shared earlier the initial map of likely coverage. That service area has been further refined and split into two different phases.
First, let me share the explanation of the methodology used to determine phases 1 and 2, as presented by Collin Boyce our Director of IT.
The following map show areas in red that will be hardest hit meaning these conditions are met:
Population density (greater than 3,000 people per square mile) – The cost to build into these are significant, the greatest number of residents will benefit with the initial deployment. – Version/Phase 1
Population density (greater than 1,000 children per square mile) – The cost to build into these are significant, the greatest number of citizens will benefit with the initial deployment. – Version/Phase 2
Percentage of households without internet access (greater than 20%) – These areas have little deployment by the major carriers (Cox and CenturyLink).
Income status (greater than 15% of households below the poverty line) - Some households do not have internet access, but affording alternative options are possible.
These two phases cover an area of approximately 30% of the populated area of the city, including 10,798 households where internet access is unavailable.
In light of that, this is what Phases 1 and 2 would cover:
This proposal was adopted at Mayor and Council on Tuesday. The plan is for phase 1 to be completed this fall and phase 2 will be completed in early 2021.
Regular readers are aware of Poverello House, the day respite site for men experiencing homelessness on the boundary of Feldman’s and Sugar Hill neighborhoods in Ward 3. Poverello House has been closed since March. Re-opening is scheduled for Wednesday, August 26. My council aide, Ernesto Portillo, will be volunteering there on Thursday mornings and they need additional volunteers to screen the guests before they enter on Wednesdays and Sundays from 7:00 am to 8:30 am. Training and PPE will be provided.
As always, take care of yourself and others.
Pet of the Week
aby is a 2-year-old bull dog who loves to play with toys. She is housetrained and has good manners almost all of the time, unless there is a cat around. Baby says “Dogs rule and cats drool!” Because of this she would love to come home to a feline-free house. If that sounds like you then you can make an appointment for a meet and greet with Baby. Bring the whole family, even your resident dog, to seal the deal.
To protect staff, volunteers and visitors from COVID-19, hours and operations of the Humane Society of Southern Arizona
have been modified. Adoptions can be made by appointment by calling 520-327-6088.
Ward 3 Neighborhood Association/Coalition Meetings
Ellie Towne Center
1660 W Ruthrauff Rd
Ward 3 Events
League of Women Voters of Greater Tucson Sponsors Amphi School Board Candidate Forum
The audience will be able to ask questions of the candidates through the moderator. It will be conducted like forums in the past with a Moderator, Timer and Question Sorter.
Navigating the Impacts of COVID-19 for Small Businesses Part XIX
3 - 4 pm
You will receive a confirmation email
Join the City of Tucson Office of Economic Initiatives for a webinar where you will hear from commercial property owners, and their small business tenants, on ways they are meeting the challenges of this pandemic.
Featured speakers will be Jane McCollum, General Manager of the Marshall Foundation, Main Gate Square and Bill Kelley, Chief Financial Officer of Diamond Ventures.
Downtown Links Phase 3 Pre-Construction Public Virtual Meeting
Or call tollfree: 1-213-293-2303 Conference ID: 704 727 28#
If there is difficulty with the meeting link, click here
Community Meetings: Renewal & Expansion of the Central Business District
The City of Tucson will host the second of two community meetings tomorrow to provide information regarding the proposed renewal and expansion of the Central Business District (CBD). Advance registration is required. To register, click the link below:
Did You Know?
Call To Artists
Workers & Families Grant Program Begins August 19
Workers and families negatively affected by COVID-19 can apply for financial assistance grants through the Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona, August 19 – September 9. Go to the City of Tucson website
for more information about how you may qualify for up to $700 per individual and $1,200 per family from Tucson CARES Act funding.
Small Business and Nonprofit Continuity Grant Applications Through August 28
The We Are One | Somos Uno Resiliency Fund grant program will distribute $2 million to small businesses and $500,000 to nonprofits. The grant program will be accepting applications until August 28.
As part of the City of Tucson’s CARES Act funds, the Mayor and Tucson City Council approved $2.5 million for small businesses and nonprofits. Under the We Are One | Somos Uno Resiliency Fund, the grant program will distribute $2 million to small businesses and $500,000 to nonprofits.
In partnership with the YWCA of Southern Arizona (YWCA) and the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona (CFSA), the grant program has started accepting applications. The YWCA’s Women’s Business Center will administer the small business continuity grants, up to $10,000.
Applications will be available in English and Spanish, and grants will be awarded within 10 business days of submission. Nonprofit continuity grants, up to $20,000, will be administered through the CFSA.
Nonprofits in the City of Tucson and the City of South Tucson are eligible to apply.
Follow the links below through August 28 for more information.
Council Member Paul Durham is on Social Media!
Ward 3 has Facebook and Twitter pages so you can keep up with our Council Member and stay in touch with what's happening in Tucson and around the Ward.
Follow us on Twitter: @CMPaul_Durham