The Barrio Neighborhood Coalition of Tucson (BNC) brings together residents and community members from barrios and neighborhoods surrounding downtown Tucson in order to sustain dialogue and action regarding issues of urban development, gentrification, and displacement. The group was initially convened by leaders within neighborhoods and communities, including neighborhood association presidents and board members, as a space to discuss issues within barrio and neighborhood communities.
As downtown redevelopment and gentrification began to accelerate in 2017, BNC community members met in early 2018 to advocate for action that would address ensuing gentrification and displacement in the downtown community and surrounding barrios and neighborhoods. The BNC defines gentrification as: “a form of neighborhood change, resulting in the displacement of incumbent residents of one social class and culture by another more affluent class, linked with an increase in property values" (https://ncrc.org/gentrification/). Accelerating gentrification brought together new and long-term BNC members to organize an event that would provide both a space to hear concerns from the community and a platform to develop a plan of action. On September 15, 2018, over 100 community members attended the Gentrification: Barrio and Neighborhood Impacts and Community Options event, which included elected officials, residents, and community members. The event included three dialogue sessions in which attendees articulated issues within their communities, feelings about change in their communities, and their priorities for future action.
Since the September 2018 community event, the BNC hosted several candidates forums during the 2019 Tucson election cycle, worked with community partners to learn about how gentrification is impacting community members in diverse neighborhoods, and planned community education events. However, the pressures of gentrification have only continued to accelerate in and around downtown Tucson. According to Helen Erickson and Betty Villegas’ September 2019 “Preliminary Report: Preservation Tools for the Mitigation of Gentrification/Displacement in Re-urbanism in Tucson,'' approximately 1.4 million households were involuntarily displaced from their homes in the last two years1, and “the Pima County Consolidated Justice Court ordered an average of 25 evictions per day in the 2018 fiscal year2” (10). These pressing conditions inform the BNC’s role as a community advocate seeking to combat gentrification and displacement in downtown Tucson.
1 LISC, Community Land Trusts & Community Development Partners Against Displacement, 2/2019 David M. Greenberg, National Director of Research
2 Emily Bregel. “EVICTIONS: Low-Income Housing Crisis Takes Toll On Tucson Renters.” Arizona Daily Star, Nov 17, 2018.