The City of Tucson is leading the charge in addressing the urgent need for affordable housing with an innovative initiative that allows residents to build tiny homes, known as casitas, using specially designed models from competition winners. KGUN 9’s Bri Pacelli dives into the details of this groundbreaking project in collaboration with the Tucson Planning and Development Services.

Following the approval of code changes in Dec. 2021, the city greenlit casita construction within its limits. Manisha Bewtra, Planning and Mobility Development Advisor to Mayor Romero said, Tucson needs more housing to meet the needs of a diverse community. We need homes for single folks, families for young folks, for seniors, for everyone.

To kickstart this initiative, the city’s Planning and Development Services Department secured a $10,000 grant from AARP to organize a design competition, to establish a model plan library for more accessible and affordable casitas. Daniel Bursuck, Manager of Code Development for the City of Tucson, emphasized the initiative’s goal saying, To really build that library to reduce those barriers and to try to look at ways to reduce cost and make it less complex so people can go to a website instead of having to find a designer in order to do this.

The timeline for construction initiation, particularly for the featured designs, hinges on the approval of model plansthe next crucial step for designers who have currently submitted schematic plans. According to sources, the potential commencement of construction could be as early as the beginning of 2024, depending on the progress of the designers.

Upon selecting a design from the library, homeowners will collaborate with the designer to create a basic site plan, ensuring compliance with zoning regulations and addressing fundamental site work requirements.

Alejandro Fernandez, one of the contest winners, expressed gratitude for the opportunity and shared insights into his design.

“This is a new beginning for us in Arizona, and we think we will help a lot of people to have their backyard home and casita,” he said. Fernandez highlighted the importance of accessibility, ensuring his casitas are handicapped-accessible for individuals with wheelchairs.

The City of Tucson’s commitment to affordable housing through the casita initiative represents a significant stride towards providing accessible and sustainable housing solutions.