Financial Wellness Partnership Update
November 2021
United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona circulates this monthly newsletter focused on financial wellness topics. In this edition, learn the latest about our recent focus team meetings, affordable housing plans for Tucson, community financial wellness resources, and more.
Join us at our next Financial Wellness Partnership Meeting
Thursday 12/16, 1-2:30pm

This session will include two presentations --

  • PimaFastTrack: Learn about this new opportunity at Pima Community College - stacked credential programs designed for adult learners to start careers in fields offering family-sustaining wages. Staff and community navigators from PimaFastTrack will join us for this session.
  • Reflections from Ken: Our Associate Vice President of Community Development, Ken Briggs, officially retires on 12/17. He will share thoughts from four decades of working with education, community development, and financial wellness programs that can carry our work forward.

All interested individuals in the community are welcome to Zoom in and join! Email Lisa Floran ([email protected]) to receive the link.

Updates and Research
Workshop: Trauma-Informed Economic Empowerment
On November 16th, the Financial Wellness Partnership hosted Mireya Obregon from the Domestic Violence Law Clinic at the University of Arizona for a session about trauma, financial behavior, and economic justice. About 40 individuals from 22 organizations joined the conversation - and as one participant said at the end, "Thank you for this session - it was the best webinar I've been to in 2 years!" We will share more notes and information from the session in upcoming newsletters. Much thanks to all who joined and shared their ideas!
Focus Team Updates
Our Financial Wellness Partnership currently hosts two focus teams. The first, the Collaborative Referrals team, works on projects to make referrals and services from multiple organizations easier on participants and nonprofit staff. By improving referral processes, the group aims to help households better meet their full range of needs and achieve higher levels of financial wellness. The second group, the Public Policy team, works on educational efforts in service to financial wellness advocacy and systems change. Through these efforts, the public policy group aims to build environments where optimal financial wellness is easier for all to pursue and achieve.
Collaborative Referrals Team
At their last meeting, the Collaborative Referrals team reviewed a form and process that organizations can use to refer participants to financial wellness programs in our network. The goals of this pilot project are three-fold: 1) support more individuals and families to benefit from the strong financial wellness programs in our community; 2) reduce the burden on nonprofit staff in navigating resource options; 3) offer feedback about what works well for referrals between organizations. United Way is planning to pilot this form with a small group of providers working with families of young and school-age children. We look forward to sharing updates about what we learn!
Public Policy Team
In November, the public policy team met and reviewed recent issues of note: federal infrastructure bill, Build Back Better, the passing of Tucson's $15 minimum wage initiative, ADU ordinance, and more. This group is especially interested in exploring opportunities to add the voices, experiences, and presence of people with lived experience into policy conversations next year. Next steps include working on plans to move that work forward in 2022 while continuing to share information and action ideas around policy issues that arise. 
All are welcome to participate with our focus teams. If you would like to get involved, email Lisa Floran: [email protected]
Housing Affordability Strategy for Tucson - Feedback Requested
The City of Tucson recently released its draft Housing Affordability Strategy for Tucson (HAST) plan. Since 2009, the population of Pima County has grown by 9.8% (95,970 individuals); and with slowing housing production, median rents are up 40% and home values have increased 60% since 2017. The HAST plan outlines specific actions that the City can take – both in the short and long term – to support the preservation and construction of new housing units to meet the growing need for affordable options.
Our public policy group has identified affordable housing as a key issue for our Partnership to pursue. Here are a few noteworthy aspects of the plan that may be of special interest for our partners --

  • Increasing support for vulnerable populations: In other localities, income protection ordinances prohibit housing discrimination based on source of income (ex. Housing Choice Vouchers/Section 8, Social Security, etc.). The draft plan recommends exploring the feasibility of a similar ordinance in Tucson. Also included are funds and support to expand non-congregate shelter for domestic violence survivors and small-scale housing for youth and older adults. The plan also proposes a Housing Resource Connection Program, which would offer housing navigation resources – likely via a nonprofit partner. (Initiatives #3, 8, 10).
  • Expanding rehabilitation efforts: In support of the new Accessory Dwelling Unit ordinance, the plan includes a pilot program to support low-income households to finance ADU renovations. Also included are programs to supplement rehabilitation costs for manufactured housing and multi-family rental buildings. (#4)
  • Increasing supply of new housing: Offering additional incentives to promote ADU construction to add affordable rental units to the market and promoting low-cost development methods such as modular homes, 3D printed homes, etc. (#6)
  • Pursuing new funding streams: The plan mentions reinstating the Tucson Housing Trust Fund, evaluating adding housing in a future bond election, and ongoing advocacy for state and federal funding to secure additional money for affordable housing efforts. (#9)
The Department of Housing and Community Development is currently taking written feedback about this plan. You can also explore the full plan, as well as FAQs from past community sessions, on the HAST webpage. Submit your written comments – support, considerations, or recommended changes – in the text box at the bottom of this page: Housing Affordability Strategy for Tucson Plan
Health Insurance Marketplace: Open Enrollment
Starting November 1, 2021, the Marketplace Open Enrollment at begins. This year, a new law (American Rescue Plan) provides greatly improved financial support, which can significantly lower people’s premiums: 4 out of 5 people will be able to find plans for $10/month or less after newly expanded financial assistance. These are quality, comprehensive health plans that offer doctor visits, emergency care, preventive care, hospital care, and prescription drugs. The Marketplace Open Enrollment Period on runs from November 1, 2021 to January 15, 2022. Consumers who enroll by December 15 can get coverage that starts January 1. 
There is more help available this year - consumers can access assisters and Champions for Coverage in nearly every state and county on the Marketplace. To find local help go to
Volunteer Opportunity: Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)
Every year, VITA volunteers help us bring $20-30 million dollars back to low and moderate income families in Arizona. For many clients served through VITA, their tax refund is a financial lifeline. United Way is looking for volunteers just like you to join the team this season - no previous tax experience required. United Way provides all the training needed for you to be an asset to our team.

  • Intake Specialists greet taxpayers and manage the waiting area. Interview taxpayers to verify that they have all documents necessary for tax preparation and scan documents into the tax preparation Hub. 
  • Tax Preparers attend our FREE VITA tax training and complete an IRS certification test. Learn our tax preparation software to serve taxpayers with free, efficient, accurate tax preparation.
  • More Advanced Role have you volunteered with VITA before? We would love to have you on our team as a Quality Reviewer or Site Coordinator.
Two more volunteer orientations will be held before training starts. Visit our VITA Volunteer page to sign up: VITA Volunteer Interest Sign-Up
Resource Corner
Woman peeks over a book in a library surrounded by books
Financial Wellness Resources for Southern Arizona
United Way Tucson Financial Wellness Resource List: Find programmatic and 1:1 opportunities for financial coaching/education, tax assistance, workforce development, and more on this list developed by United Way of Tucson and Southern AZ partners. You are also welcome to email Lisa if you want to talk through ideas or recommendations about what might be a good fit: [email protected]

United Way Tucson Financial Wellness Volunteer Opportunities: Want to lend your time as a volunteer with a financial wellness program? See our list of opportunities to volunteer as a financial mentor, workshop facilitator, ESL teacher, and more.
Reading List
Other Opportunities
Funding Opportunity - Non-Congregate Shelter/Bridge Housing Operations & Supportive Services: City of Tucson staff will also hold a pre-proposal conference on 11/29; applications due 12/6

Funding Opportunity – CORE Grants from the Community Foundation of Southern Arizona: CORE Grants provide nonprofits with the flexible working capital necessary to maximize their impact and improve the quality of life in southern Arizona. Applications due 12/3.

Homeowner Assistance Fund Program: AZ Dept of Housing has a new program offering mortgage and utility assistance for homeowners. Register for an info session with Family Housing Resources to learn more (sessions available 11/22 - 12/21)

Virtual Introduction to Striving Toward Racial Justice: Striving Toward Racial Justice offers resources and tips for local organizations to translate commitment to action and results; join TPCH, SIROW, and CoT HCD for an overview on 11/30 at 11am

Professional Development: Viable Insights recently shared a strategic planning and continuous quality improvement resource that they have made free for our partners – you can access it here via the coupon code FWP21.
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

Eviction Prevention Resources - The Tucson Pima EPP portal for rental and utility assistance is still open, working with a network of 10+ nonprofits to distribute relief funds from the City of Tucson and Pima County. Tenants are encouraged to sign up for the waitlist in order to be considered.

Pima County Housing Search - Searchable database of affordable rental housing, supported by Pima County

2-1-1 Eviction Assistance App - Answer a series of questions in approximately two minutes and receive detailed, individual, step-by-step guidance to about housing assistance and resources

AZ Eviction Help - Information about eviction processes, tenant rights, and resources for rental assistance, utility assistance, legal assistance compiled by the Arizona Bar Association

AHCCCS Vaccine Navigators - The Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), in partnership with Crisis Response Network, announces a new COVID-19 appointment and transportation navigation program for Medicaid members. Now, Medicaid members who need assistance scheduling a COVID-19 vaccine appointment, as well as transportation to and from that appointment, can call 1-844-542-8201, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week.

Vaccine Ambassadorship Toolkit: This toolkit from TPCH provides advocate resources related to accurate vaccine education and trauma-informed discussions about the vaccines with people experiencing homelessness.

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

View past newsletters and learn more about our 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: [email protected]