Financial Wellness Partnership Update

October 2022

In this month's newsletter, learn about our upcoming zoning conversation, financial wellness policy happenings of note, racial equity in financial skills work, VITA volunteering, and more.

United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona's Financial Wellness Partnership envisions a community where every person and family is financially well - specifically, they can:

  • Cover the cost of their basic needs

  • Save for emergencies

  • Make informed choices for themselves and their families with financial skills

  • Pursue wealth-building opportunities

  • Participate in civic and community resource decisions

For all of these areas, financial wellness requires equitable access, awareness, and the capability to use resources related to income, employment, housing, benefits, budgeting, credit, and more. 

Meeting and Project Updates

Join us at our next Financial Wellness Partnership Network Meeting Thursday 10/20, 1-2:30pm

The October meeting will continue our eviction prevention conversation with a Zoning 101 presentation from staff at the City of Tucson Planning & Development Services. Zoning is a crucial piece of the affordable housing puzzle. Historically, many communities used zoning policies to maintain segregation and exclude BIPOC groups from homeownership opportunities – practices that reverberate in economic inequality today. But with community input, zoning policies can shift and, in particular, serve as valuable tools to expand housing opportunities. We look forward to a conversation that covers the history of zoning, the basics of the zoning process, and how community members can participate in zoning decisions at a local level.

Additionally, our meeting will include updates from our public policy and financial education/coaching work teams. This will be an in-person meeting, with a virtual link available. Contact Lisa Floran ( to receive the calendar invite.

Want a head start? These three reports offer great background and insights about zoning through a national, Arizona, and Pima County lens:

Public Policy Group

Earlier this month, our public policy group checked in to discuss recent financial wellness opportunities and happenings of note. A few projects that the group is interested in continuing to follow include the Regional Prosperity Task Force, the state Housing Supply Study Committee, and opportunities to advocate for long-term emergency assistance funds, particularly after ARPA funding ends. Even with additional federal resources currently available for eviction prevention, the need continues to be great – particularly for individuals and families who are days away from eviction and do not have the time that the waitlist requires. On the topic of housing, group members also voiced concern that policy efforts might focus only on increasing housing supply and not address the urgent need to ensure that housing is also affordable.

Articles and action opportunities flagged by the public policy group this month:

  • Arizona Extension Needs Assessment Survey: By completing this 15-minute survey, help University of Arizona Cooperative Extension (UACE) make important choices about how to best continue serving the community through programs and partnerships. Extension's focus areas are agriculture and natural resources; family and consumer health sciences; and youth development and leadership. 
  • Source of Income Ordinance Passes: The Tucson City Council unanimously passed the Source of Income ordinance to ban discriminatory treatment of Section 8 and Social Security recipients. 456 community members provided feedback via a survey about the ordinance, with tenants making up the largest proportion of respondents (29.4%). Of the respondents, 57.5% strongly agreed or agreed with the ordinance. Learn more in the Tucson Sentinel article at the link.
  • United Way Public Policy Agenda Survey: The results of this survey will be used to create the United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona’s Policy Agenda for 2023. Responses are anonymous, and you may skip any question you do not wish to answer. Notes compiled by our public policy team can be found here, if they might inform your responses.

The Public Policy group will next meet for a coffee conversation on Tuesday 11/1 - 8am at 5 to Oh Coffee (115 N Church Ave, Tucson, AZ 85701). All are welcome to stop by and join the conversation!

Financial Education/Coaching Group

In September, our Financial Coaching/Education group kicked off their meeting by responding to a central question: Why is adding a racial equity lens important to financial wellness work? Here are a few of their responses:

  • It is important to me because a racial equity lens acknowledges how the system we are forced to live in was not built for people of color to succeed.

  • Our programs won’t be effective unless we use the racial equity lens.

  • We need to address the long-standing systemic barriers and structures that have left many out of opportunities.

  • I want to make sure that the services my program offers are easily accessible to all.

Liquid asset data from Prosperity Now’s Scorecard suggest that less than half of Pima County households of color have enough cash to cover three months worth of expenses in the event of an emergency.

Later in the meeting, we reviewed local racial disparity data related to financial wellness indicators and learned about how programs in Oklahoma, Oregon, Hawaii, and California have adapted curricula for BIPOC populations. Rosalva Romero and Liz Rabago also shared insights about how they have adapted a financial education program to better serve Latina entrepreneurs at the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona. A few strategies identified included acknowledging historical racial inequities directing in curricula and coaching, talking about finances with a multi-generational lens, and individualizing content based on participant interests and goals. Other resources mentioned at the meeting included SBA Spanish-language resources and Money Management International – Spanish resources.

The Financial Education and Coaching group will next meet on Thursday 10/27 at 1pm. Email Lisa Floran ( to receive the link, notes, and meeting agendas. 

VITA Volunteer Sign-ups Now Open

Interested in helping families in your community? Train to be a VITA Volunteer with United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona! By volunteering with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, you’ll make a direct, positive impact by helping thousands of local families secure their largest paycheck of the year: their tax refund. United Way’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA) provides free tax preparation to individuals and families earning up to $73,000 annually, and on average, VITA participants receive a refund of $1,800. Where else is an hour of your time worth $1,800?

Available volunteer roles include tax preparer, greeter, interview specialist, and Spanish interpreter. Learn more and start the training process by visiting our VITA Volunteer webpage.

Meet a Financial Wellness Partner

When faced with an unexpected expense, no one should be forced to choose between keeping a roof overhead, food on the table, or utilities turned on. But in Southern Arizona, 1 in 5 households making $50,000 or less don’t have an extra $400 on hand for any type of emergency.

Last year, United Way provided emergency fund grants to 10 organizations working with high-need families, refugees, Afghan evacuees, Veterans, and survivors of domestic violence. Learn more about one of those emergency fund grant partners, Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest, in this interview with one of their team members.

Lutheran Social Services of The Southwest

Jeanine Balezi, Refugee and Immigration Services Case Manager

What is your role at Lutheran?

I facilitate the self-sufficiency and independence of refugee families, and coordinate services and community support to address the needs of refugees who may be affected by medical conditions or mental health concerns that impact their ability to function independently. We assist our clients/refugees to gain financial self-sufficiency through our Early Employment Program by helping refugees to identify employment opportunities, vocational training and language skills that will allow them to attain confidence while working toward their financial stability and self-sufficiency. In addition to helping them find employment, we also work with them on budgeting, job-readiness, and life skills.  

What is your favorite part about your position?

Being a part of this wonderful organization that allows me to assist refugees in navigating different bureaucracies and community support and to witness their success through employment and higher education (college/university). Simply, assisting refugees to resettle in Tucson from harm’s way to safety, from despair to hope, from deprivation to many opportunities and from oppression to freedom. 

What is your favorite part about living in Southern Arizona?

Arizona is unique and very special place. The greatest mountains, cactus, and our desert, are very therapeutic. I like how Arizona is very diverse and welcoming. Tucson Meet Yourself is one of my favorite events that highlights and appreciates our diverse cultures.

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. If you are involved with a program, service, or other resource supporting financial wellness in Southern Arizona, we would love to add you to the list.

Want to add or update your program's entry? Use this form.

Youth on the Rise Re-Engagement App: A new resource guide to help youth 16-24 navigate services, resources, and systems in Pima County

Reading List

Bipartisan Policy Center proposes legislation to address housing crisisHousing Wire, October 4, 2022

Elderly, especially women, among most vulnerable in Pima County's housing crisisArizona Daily Star, October 1, 2022

Why it’s so difficult to make mobile homes safer in extreme heat - AZ Luminaria, September 28, 2022

On Valuing Parental Time And Children’s Development In The Design Of Cash Transfer ProgramsInstitute for Research on Poverty, September 15, 2022

RIP Medical Debt Reduces Crushing Health-Related Bills for MillionsSpotlight on Poverty, September 14, 2022

Post-Secondary Pathways: Learning from the Community - Cradle 2 Career at United Way of Tucson and Southern AZ, September 9, 2022

Exploring the Effects of a $15 an Hour Federal Minimum Wage on Poverty, Earnings, and Net Family ResourcesUrban Institute, September 7, 2022

Other Opportunities

Funding Opportunity – Santa Cruz Community Foundation: Requests for up to $5,000 accepted to support work by organizations conducting work in Santa Cruz County. Applications due 10/28.


Funding Opportunity – CORE Grants Info Session from the Community Foundation of Southern Arizona:: The next round of CORE Grant applications will open on 11/7, with a virtual info session to learn more on 10/12 at 4:30pm.

Survey - Pima County Economic Development Survey: Pima County residents are invited to share opportunities and challenges for businesses in Pima County in a 10 minute survey. The survey will be open until October 10th, 2022. Survey also available in Spanish


Webinar - Launching Urban’s Disability Equity Policy Initiative: A Conversation on Including Disability in Research: Join the Urban Institute and nationally recognized experts for a conversation on the importance of researchers advocating for disability inclusion in data collection and how we can apply a disability lens to our work. Focus areas include housing for disabled people, immigrants with disabilities, and challenges for disabled people living in rural areas.

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 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.

  • Utility Assistance: The page linked here, found via, is a great central resource for different utility relief programs, including those from TEP, Southwest Gas, and other local providers.

FEMA COVID-19 Funeral Assistance: To help ease the financial stress caused by the virus, FEMA is helping pay for COVID-19- related funeral expenses. Individuals can receive up to $9,000. To start an application, individuals must first call the FEMA COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Helpline: 844-684-6333. Multiple languages are available. The phone line is open Monday-Friday, 9am-9pm E.T. This tool from TPCH can help individuals and families check their eligibility for homelessness prevention funds, which may be available in certain situations - such as when a family is paying to stay at a hotel but running out of funds, or being forced to leave a housing situation where they are doubled up.

Arizona Homeowner Assistance Fund: The HAF program provides help for homeowners who have experienced financial hardship due to COVID-19 after January 21st, 2020. Homeowners can use HAF funds for the purpose of preventing the following: homeowner mortgage delinquencies, homeowner mortgage defaults, homeowner mortgage foreclosures, homeowner loss of utilities or home energy services, and displacements of homeowners experiencing financial hardship.

Health Benefits: AHCCCS is taking steps to ensure that all eligible Arizonans can stay covered as the federal government ends the national public health emergency. Visit the AHCCCS page to check steps that can ensure members do not experience gaps in coverage.

SingleCare Affordable Prescriptions: United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona partners with SingleCare to provide community members with access to affordable prescription medications. The SingleCare prescription savings card is always free to use by everyone and has no registration or eligibility requirements - it can be used right away. Once signed up, a member just needs to show the savings card to their pharmacist when they fill a prescription at a participating pharmacy. The discount will be automatically applied at checkout.

Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)- The ACP is an FCC benefit (formerly Emergency Broadband Benefit) that helps ensure households can afford the broadband they require for work, healthcare and to stay connected. The ACP provides eligible low-income households a credit up to $30 a month toward the cost of Internet service ($75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands). Participants in the program can apply the ACP credit toward the cost of participating plans from a variety of Internet service providers, as well as mobile services.

  • Locally, Comcast is one participating provider. Households that choose plans that cost $30/month or less will essentially receive their service for free - learn more about Comcast's program here

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

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

Order Free COVID-19 Tests: Go to, to order four tests per household. Orders will usually ship in 7-12 days and will begin shipping later this month.

COVID-19 Vaccination Sites - Accessibility and Accommodation Resources for People with Disabilities: Information from the Arizona Center for Disability Law

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

Become a Direct Care Professional
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: