Tucson landlord calls for change as soaring rents price some out of homes | News

TUCSON (KVOA) – Over the last several years, some out-of-state investors have come into Tucson, bought rental property and hiked up the rents.

Stephanie Zill moved to Tucson from Los Angeles several years ago and bought 12 units to rent.

Some of them are near Fort Lowell and Alvernon.

Zill’s tenants are on a fixed income, paying on average $450 per month.

“People need a safe, secure, dignified place to live no matter what they’re income is,” she said. “I’ve raised it $20 a month since I bought the place five years ago. But, if people can’t afford $450, I’m willing to go down to $400.”

This landlord’s compassion is far from the norm.

“We’re creating a new class of homeless,” Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik said.

Tucson and other local jurisdictions cannot take any action to adopt rent control because that’s against state law.

“Unless and until the state legislature gets their foot off our throat and allows us to open up a dialogue with landlords that say we will gladly allow you a five or 10 percent rent increase based on legitimate upgrades to the property or chasing inflation,” Kozachik said. “But, that’s not what we’re seeing. We’re seeing a 30 to 40 percent increase to people on a fixed income.”

“It’s beyond disappointing, it’s wrong,” Zill said. “Why is that right, why is that fair? Why is that legal? We need to change these laws.”

Brian Hollenbaugh is on a disability and Social Security. He was homeless before he met Stephanie Zill.

“All we had was what we had on our back and we lost our storage unit so we lived under the wash in a tent under a tree for almost six months,” Hollenbaugh said.

“It is such a wonderful feeling and so gratifying to get up in the morning and look at yourself in the mirror and think I’m helping 12 people to stay in their housing, to lead lives that are dignified, to lead lives that are full ,” Zill said. “I’m doing that. It’s marvelous.”

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