With one of the highest poverty rates in the country, the city of Tucson is working with University of Arizona’s school of Sociology to find ways to help low income families in the area.

So just hearing these stories, it opens my eyes and like, makes me want to help, said Emily Smith, a student taking the Poverty in Tucson Field Workshop class.

The Poverty in Tucson Field Workshop was started in 2012 by a group that included Dr. Brian Mayer.

The goal: To find ways to help better the lives of families across Tucson.

This year, students interviewed 272 people across the area.

There’s not a difference between us and them. They are people and they have families and they are struggling, said Kaya Pyle, Smith’s classmate.

And Dr. Mayer tells KGUN 9, that this year was more difficult than years past.

This was a hard year for the students and the team and interviewing folks. The emergency rental assistance program ended in October, said Dr. Mayer.

But that won’t stop the U of A from working to help families in need.

What we’ve been doing here at the University of Arizona is studying that problem and trying to find out what are the consequences of such a high number of us living in poverty, said Dr. Mayer, “And what can we do better?

Tucson ranked behind Phoenix with a 14.9% poverty rate in 2022. The only major western Metro areas with a higher percentage were El Paso and Albuquerque.