Financial Wellness Partnership Update
November 2020
Welcome! United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona is moving forward with a monthly newsletter focused on financial wellness topics. We hope that these updates can help you share data, learn new information, and build stronger systems to support individuals and families across Southern Arizona.

In this inaugural edition, read on for updates about our Financial Wellness Partnership, new data from the 2020 Arizona KIDS COUNT report, how to provide input on City of Tucson funding, and more.
Mapping Financial Well-Being
Over the past eight months, thousands of people across Arizona have found themselves in crisis. More than 1.5 million individuals in our state filed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) since May, citing work lost due to COVID-19 shutdowns or health impacts. The accompanying loss of income has especially stressed families who were already struggling to make ends meet, and even a generous influx of public and private resources has been unable to meet the need. According to recent reporting from the Arizona Daily Star, only 236 of the 562 applicants for small business grants and 2,800 of the 11,361 applicants for basic needs requests were able to receive support from Tucson’s We Are One Somos Uno Resiliency Fund. And while the City of Tucson, Pima County, the State of Arizona, and United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona have distributed more than $4.4 million in housing assistance locally, calls continue to come in about where people can find rent or mortgage relief.

Financial wellness is embedded in the mission of United Way, and improving the stability and security of local youth, adults, and families is a goal that we share with organizations across the community. For the past few years, our Financial Wellness partnerships and initiatives have worked on efforts to launch financial education and coaching, invest in housing stability, and expand asset development programs. They also developed a graphic to illustrate how many different sectors can impact a household’s financial wellness. This abbreviated version of their map provides an overview:
The term ‘financial wellness’ makes most people think of money: combating predatory loans through banking services, providing 1-on-1 financial counseling, or exploring ways to increase income through jobs or tax refunds. But even before the pandemic, our partners understood that financial wellness also encompasses - and is impacted by - factors such as physical and mental health, access to safe shelter, work supports, and more. Moving forward, our Financial Wellness Partnership will use this map to inform ongoing efforts to strengthen families and systems and center equity through the economic recovery. The task ahead will be challenging, but we are more motivated to find innovation solutions than ever before. We look forward to finding opportunities to collaborate and keeping you updated on our work.
2020 Arizona KIDS COUNT Data Book
Children’s Action Alliance recently released their 2020 Arizona KIDS COUNT Data Book, an annual report on children’s well-being. In addition to data related to education, family, community, and health, the report includes a great deal of information about economic status. Between 2009 and 2018, the median household income among Pima County families with children dropped by $4,000, and the child poverty rate increased by three points. And while fewer Pima County children are living in rent-burdened households, child participation in critical public programs such as SNAP, TANF, and child care assistance has dropped since 2009.

Taking this data into account, Children’s Action Alliance outlines three recommendations related to public benefits access and housing affordability to improve the economic well-being of children in Arizona. Read the recommendations and full report here: 2020 Arizona KIDS COUNT Data Book
P-CHIP Survey Tools Open
The City of Tucson is collecting public input for their 2021 People, Communities, and Homes Investment Plan (P-CHIP). P-CHIP creates a framework for investing local and federal dollars in Tucson's most vulnerable populations. This plan will direct funding – generally around $2.5 million - for homeless services, housing stability, neighborhood enhancements, and more.

Your feedback is requested to help the City determine how funds will be distributed among job, education, housing, health, and community programs. Complete the initial survey by 11/26/20 to ensure your voice is heard – and feel free to spread the word: P-CHIP Survey and Budget Tool
Meet a Financial Wellness Partner
Steve Fristoe, Independent Living Advocate - Direct Advocacy & Resource Center
Founded in 1980 as the first of its kind in Arizona, Direct Advocacy & Resource Center (formerly DIRECT Center for Independent Living) is a private, nonprofit organization operated by and for people with disabilities. Their mission is to advocate voice, choice, and independence for people with disabilities. Direct offers financial coaching, money management, and self-advocacy training to their participants.
How did you end up working with financial wellness programs at Direct?
Previously, I worked at two Center for Independent Living organizations (CILs), and I saw that budgeting was a definite challenge for our participants. Whether people were starting work for the first time or had recently become unemployed, learning how to maximize income was important for all of them. I was asked if this was an area I would be open to focusing on for participants, and I agreed.
What are your responsibilities at Direct? 
At Direct, our philosophy centers on participant control, so I see myself as an options facilitator. We identify where the participant sees themselves, and then investigate ways to create financial stability and capability. The goal is to ensure that the participant maintains a level of independence - to be fully involved in making decisions that impact their lives. We use the Cents and Sensibility program as a guide. I also provide Peer Support and assist with finding resources and connections for Independent living requires that the participant maintains a level of accountability throughout the process. Progress notes are maintained in our database so that we know what has been accomplished as well as the challenges still facing our consumers.
What has been the most inspiring thing you have seen or learned in your work?
It’s truly inspiring when a participant has a handle on their finances and feels that they can reach the finish line independently. The Co-active Coaching method blends well with our philosophy. One of my participants was able to wipe out their debt entirely, and another is on a fast track to do the same. Through our programs, they shared with me that they felt their opinions were respected and they were not judged when making a “wrong turn.” And they figured out next steps by exploring the situation and respecting the established relationship. That was exciting for me.

What is your favorite thing about living in Southern Arizona?
You cannot beat the sunsets! I start my day by just looking outdoors and viewing such a beautiful place. I have met many inspiring professionals too, many of whom have become mentors.

Anything else to add? 
Learning is continual. I am thankful that I work with a team of individuals who really care about successful outcomes for those we serve. I am happy to work in an environment where I can call upon the expertise of so many.
Resource Corner
Reading List
Upcoming Webinars
Post-Election Federal Policy Outlook for Affordable Housing & Neighborhoods - National Association of Affordable Housing Lenders and The Center for Community Lending - 11/17/20, 10am

Using Law and Policy to Create Equitable Communities - Robert Wood Johnson Foundation - 11/17/20, 1pm

Financial Security 2020: A Framework for Recovery and Resilience - Aspen Institute Financial Security Program - 11/18/20, 10am

#ThinkLikeASaver: Saving for Major Life Milestones - America Saves - 11/19/20, 12pm

Additional Information

What Tenants Need to Know During COVID-19 – Robust list including rental assistance, eviction protection/moratorium, and legal assistance resources compiled by Pima County

Pima County Eviction Prevention Program – Funds for individuals and families in Pima County facing an eviction due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tenants or landlords may initiate an application for funding.

COVID-19 Assistance for Pascua Yaqui community members - Funds available to support burial expenses, housing costs, and distance learning equipment for Pascua Yaqui

Pima County COVID-19 Testing Sites – Locations and times for free testing, testing by appointment, walk-up testing, and more updated frequently

AZDHS COVID-19 Website – Latest updates, closure and re-opening announcements, and data dashboard

2-1-1 – Hotline for information about COVID resources or COVID questions for Arizona residents
The Financial Wellness Partnership seeks to improve the financial wellness of individuals and families by increasing accessibility to effective services, resources, and opportunities, and by influencing policy to
develop equitable, people-centered systems that support financial wellness.

Learn more about United Way programs here: United Way Financial Wellness

If you have questions or suggestions for future newsletters, please contact Lisa Floran, Senior Director of Financial Wellness Initiatives at United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona: lfloran@unitedwaytucson.org