Analysis Of South Tucson Neighborhood


South Tucson is a city in Pima County, Arizona, United States and an enclave of the much larger city of Tucson. South Tucson is known for being heavily influenced by Hispanic, and especially Mexican, culture; restaurants and shops which sell traditional Mexican foods and other goods can be found throughout the city. The city is trying to attract more business through a new economic development plan and an incentive program. South Tucson has also been fighting a long, uphill battle with crime rates. For larceny, theft and aggravated assault, South Tucson ranks at about 4 times the national average.

Neighborhood Overview

According to the 2017 census, the population of the city is 5,645. This particular section of the larger city of Tucson is just south of the downtown area of Tucson. In this neighborhood Interstate 10 and 19 connect. Interstate 19 is approximately 70 miles long and leads to the border of Mexico. This area is also known to locals as “The Hood” or “El Barrio.” This neighborhood is 1.02 square miles in size. In 2016, South Tucson had the largest immigrant population in Tucson at 61%. The Hispanic population is 68%, White population 10%, and the African American population of 3%, and the remainder of the population is 19% which consists of Asian, American Indian, Pacific Islander, mixed and other races.

Surveillance Survey of the South Tucson Community

The windshield survey describes the population living in a neighborhood and their vulnerabilities within this neighborhood. In this case we will review the South Tucson neighborhood.

Housing: This predominantly Hispanic populated neighborhood is of low socioeconomic status. Approximately 29.4% of the homes in this area are owner-occupied, and approximately 70.6% are renter occupied. This neighborhood has a large homeless population that has set up encampments in the parks and open spaces around the neighborhood. Many of the homeless population are transient and not native to the South Tucson area. The county jail is housed in close proximity to this population, so many people who exit the jail don’t go very far and end up setting up camp in this part of the city. Due to the large immigrant population of S. Tucson, not much is said about the homeless situation. The homeless population causes an increase in crime and devaluation of real estate in the area as is the case in most places where homeless pouplations flourish.

Community Areas: This small enclave has multiple parks, walking/hiking/biking trails, and national parks are not far from the area. Although these parks and pavillions exist for residents to enjoy there is a limited amount of use by local residents due to safety concerns related to the homeless population presence and increase amount of drug dealing and paraphernalia found. Similar community spaces are available just a short drive from the area, which provide a safer environment for families.

Pollution: Tucsonans who lived in this area have had various cancers, heart ailments, autoimmune diseases such as lupus and other health problems as a result of pollution. It’s been 70 or more years since Air Force contractors and other industries started dumping solvents and other industrial wastes into the ground near Tucson International Airport, in proximity to the South Tucson area. The boundary of the area contaminated by TCE is roughly south of 22nd street, north of Los Reales Road, east of Interstate 19 and west of Del Moral Boulevard. More than 1,350 south-side residents have filed formal claims with the U.S. Air Force regarding alleged contamination.

Education: This neighborhood is not separate from the rest of Tucson’s education system. South Tucson is part of the Tucson Unified School District. Therefore, there is access to several nearby elementary, middle and high schools. There are also private Catholic schools easily accessible to the area. According to, no school assigned to the residents of the South Tucson area has a rating above five out of ten.

Culture and religion: Predominantly the religion of South Tucson is Catholic at 21.4 %. Another 17 % is non-Catholic Christian. Although Arizona’s a bit of a baby to the United States, because the state was third-from-last to become an official part of the country, which happened on Valentine’s Day in 1912. Although, the region was inhabited long before statehood. As a result, American Indian sites, such as ruins of villages and ancient structures that stand as a testament to ingenuity, and missions that were founded by European, Catholic missionaries in the late 1600s.

Health services: The neighborhood has its own Health Department. Two nearby community mental health outpatient centers. Two major hospitals are within 5 miles. There is a methadone clinic in the area and one substance abuse center. It’s not clear if this is due to high community involvement in providing health care or if the community attracts people who are more in need of services tire area.

Transportation: The neighborhood is at the crosshairs of I10 and I19, which makes it easily accessible to residents and visitors by car. Three are several bus stops with routes that cross over one another in the small area. The transportation system of South Tucson is the same as that of Tucson city transportation. Safety would be a concern when using public transport.

Business: The neighborhood contains strip malls along the main roadways and corner stores speckled throughout the residential streets. Most of the signs are in Spanish with English being the smaller font. There are no major big box stores, no large grocery chains. Everything is small and Mom & Pop.

Latino Culture in South Tucson

This Tucson neighborhood is known to most as a “Mexican” neighborhood. There is a mixture of new immigrants, “Chicanos”, and native citizens. Most immigrants are from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. Roughly 50% of the population has not completed a high school. Despite healthcare being available and accessible, many residents do not utilize services. This population faces challenges such as English as a Second Language, many residents who are here illegally.

While business in the immediate area of South Tucson is thriving because it caters to a foreign, or cultural customer base, is thriving, business surrounding the area is suffering. There are many abandoned shopping centers on the perimeter of South Tucson. There doesn’t seem to be any plan for redevelopment as the city of Tucson seems to keep expanding outward. South Tucson has been part of a revitalization project of the larger downtown Tucson area. Due to its historic sites and unique pueblo style housing.

Health Issues

Issues that affect South Tucson are going to be the same issues that affect Tucson in general. Some of these issues include lack of access to medical care. According to Stephanie Innes of the Arizona Daily Star, 20% of Pima County adults and 12 % of children have no health insurance. State cuts to Medicaid, which is for extremely indigent people, left more people without health coverage. Limited coverage for behavior health and lack of access to medications are hindering local residents from getting care. There is also a county wide shortage in in primary-care providers. Obesity, diabetes and substance abuse are the top medical problems. There has also been an increase in deaths from firearms and suicide.

Social Determinants

Social Determinants obviously seen in this community include race, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, geographic location and disparities in health care. The families of lower socioeconomic status are at a higher risk of developing chronic conditions. Daily stressors the residents face are unemployment, discrimination, and lack of knowledge or fear to access available assistance due to their legality status living in the U.S.

Health Disparities remain in existence regarding access to quality care, preventative care, emergent care, acute and chronic health management. Some of the strongest needs in health care involve, asthma, diabetes, dialysis, HTN, STIs, mental health and substance abuse.


The people of South Tucson have come together in recent years in attempt to revitalize their small enclave of the city. The community’s leaders have partnered with health agencies, tribal agencies, law enforcement, and mental health services to safety concerns, social and health disparities. Although the community has welcomed the improvements made by the city of Tucson, the community faces challenges continually. Community leaders need to forge ahead in developing plans to improve the quality of life and adaptable to the constant changes that take place in a community with an ever-changing population.


  1. South Tucson, Arizona Population 2019. Retrieved April 14, 2019 from:
  2. Stanhope, M., Lancaster, J. (2016). Public health nursing: Population-centered health care in the community. (9th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier.
  3. Pollution still making us sick, Tucson south-siders tell Air Force. Retrieved April 14, 2019 from: air/article_5f3c9cfb-5833-5504-87f8-3353c4b08349.html
  4. Stephanie Innes. August 18, 2018. No.1 health issue in Pima County: lack of access to care. Arizona Daily Star. P 37-38.
  5. Arizona Department of Health Services. Health and Wellness for All Arizonans. Arizona Health Disparities Center. Retrieved April 20, 2019 from:
09 March 2021
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