PHOENIX - One of the lifelines some Arizonans have used to get by during the pandemic is set to end on July 23rd, the governor's eviction moratorium.
Gov. Doug Ducey's moratorium on evictions will expire and landlords will be allowed to evict renters who haven’t paid their rent.
Housing advocates worry it could lead to a flood of evictions and the county courts are already preparing.
Arizona woman Amanda Scott did everything right. She paid her bills, had good credit and was just about to buy a house.
Now, she’s worried she and her teenage daughter will be homeless. "I was in good standing when the pandemic started," she said.
When the stimulus check came and unemployment was delivered weekly, Scott was just barely able to cover rent for her and her daughter.
But in May, her unemployment account hit a snag. "I’ve been 6 weeks without unemployment ...," she said.
She, like many other Arizonans, held off on paying rent, which was allowed because of the governor's eviction moratorium. However, that ends July 23rd and all back rent becomes due.
"It’s very stressful. I’ve definitely lost sleep over it," Scott said.
Eviction filings at Maricopa County Justice Courts were down 75% in May compared to last year, which they credit to the moratorium.
Now, courts are preparing for a surge in filings if renters can’t pay the lump sum, including adding judges and court dates.
"We think we’re going to see an increase in homelessness," said Joan Serviss with the Arizona Housing Coalition.
It’s important renters speak with landlords to try to come to a solution, Serviss said.
A spokesperson for the governor wouldn’t answer if they’re considering extending the moratorium, adding they’re working with multiple groups to “... determine any additional actions that may be needed following the order's expiration. We want to see landlords and tenants be able to continue to come to resolutions that minimize disruptions, avoid any surge in evictions, and continue to protect public health.”
Serviss adds, "If we’re going to end this eviction moratorium then we need to make sure the rental assistance dollars are helping and getting out on the streets right away."
Data from the Arizona Department of Housing reveals the state has only approved 7% of rental assistant applications for a little over $1 million.
Scott applied for that help but is still waiting. "It’s stuck in a ‘for review.' You call and you can’t get through," she said.
The governor's spokesperson said since the rental assistance program was launched, they’ve worked to make changes to get dollars out faster, including reducing the paperwork, simplifying the eligibility criteria and offering several months of assistance.
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