Tucson has yet to meet the 17-year-old low-income community agreement

TUCSON (KVOA) – A promise was made by the city to tenants of a low-income flat share in Tucson nearly two decades ago. The promise would allow them to become homeowners for a low cost.

But several of the longtime renters tell the News 4 Tucson Investigators that the city hasn’t reached the end of the deal.

Seventeen years ago, the city agreed to a deal that would allow tenants from the Park Villa Homes community to buy their homes for the low price of $ 25,000 after 15 years.

The city was supposed to start selling the houses to renters by December 2019, but that never happened.

Richard Laguna has lived in the low-income community for 17 years. He moved there after going through some very difficult times.

“I lived in the projects with my three children,” said Laguna tearfully. “I am a single, low-income father. You know I lost my son to drugs. He was 24. ”

Laguna lives with his daughter who has special needs. He said the deal enabled him to realize his lifelong dream of becoming a homeowner.

“I just wanted to give my kids what I never had and that was a home,” said Laguna.

But he said he hadn’t heard from the city about the fact that his rent was recently increased by $ 50 and he has continued to pay monthly rent since the city missed the schedule in December 2019 that he could buy his home. He said he has spent nearly $ 12,000 in rent since the houses were due to be sold.

“I’ve done my 15 years what’s next?” Asked Laguna.

Another tenant spoke to News 4 Tucson investigators but wanted us to hide their identity.

“All of a sudden your rent is going up, with no notice or anything like that, everything is going up, well, why don’t we buy now, you are increasing the rent for everyone but no one has to sign papers,” she said.

The N4T investigators brought their concerns directly to the city. Terry Galligan, assistant director of housing and community development, did not deny the promised delay in implementing the agreement.

“What happened … I apologize, but it’s a lot more complicated than everyone expected,” said Galligan. “This is the first rental the City of Tucson has been involved in.”

Galligan said the city intends to carry out the home sales at the promised price, but he admits the rent has been increased and he said it will not be pouring into the homes.

“But that money will benefit the tenants, the property and keep it going,” said Galligan.

But Laguna said that was not good enough. He believes the city had 15 years to come up with a plan to sell the houses, and it should have done so in a timely manner.

“That’s unprofessional,” he said. “You put yourself in my shoes. If you had a contract to buy a house, two years later you are still paying for the house and you don’t hear from the city. Something is wrong, someone is not doing their job. “

Galligan said the city expects the first homes to close soon.

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