PHOENIX - The COVID-19 pandemic overwhelmed landlords and tenants financially, and now, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) eviction moratorium about to expire, will eviction filings spike in Maricopa County?
Mike Branham, a Maricopa County Constable, says he doesn't know what the eviction load will look like and says there's a process both parties have to go through.
Eviction dropped since 2020
The eviction process isn't as cut and dry as some might believe.
In Arizona, evictions have dropped by 50% since 2020 and on July 31, the moratorium expires.
Branham says evictions come in after the initial steps of the process are complete.
"We know there’s going to be hearings. They have to be held again to make sure that everyone’s rights are protected. There’s going to be judgments that have to be amended. There will be a number of court rulings based on the fact that people may come in and still show that they need to get consideration," Branham explained.
End of moratorium could affect many
The Knowledge Exchange for Resilience at Arizona State University is estimating the moratorium's expiration will impact 80,000 households. The debt burden is estimated just below a billion dollars.
Officials with the Arizona Multifamily Association say thousands of families could be evicted before they receive further assistance. Officials with the Maricopa County Justice Courts, however, say they do not expect to see thousands become homeless when the moratorium expires.
"I've heard the term ‘eviction tsunami’ coming," said Nathan Smith, Chief Program Office for the Phoenix Rescue Mission. "We naturally suspect that there are going to be many, many people that are very housing vulnerable."
Elizabeth Newcomb is one of many Arizonans concerned about finding a place to life. She lost her job at Prescott Valley School District in 2020, and she is now struggling to pay rent.
"Trying to find a job, trying to find hours that fit where my kids can go to school, and get hours where I can pick them up," said Newcomb. "It makes it a whole lot other."
Newcomb and her kids live off about $100 a week, which is not enough.
"After the 31st, you know, I hope that we still have a place to live because, you know, I can't come up with the rent," said Newcomb.
Help is available for those struggling
The City of Phoenix says it was allocated $51.1 million to begin the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) Program.
"The city is disbursing on average 1.5M a week through the ERA program, this is up from 1M a week in April/May. As of the last reporting period (7/26) the city has dispersed $22,597,604 of total funds to 2,980 households. Leaving around 25M left to help residents," the city said.
The average financial assistance per household is $7,500, the city said.
"Last year, the city distributed more than $29 million in CARES Act assistance to more than 5,700 households. Yet, while COVID-19 continues to stress public health and the local economy, the need persists," the city's website read.
In court, renters can buy more time by applying for rental assistance and coming to an agreement with their landlord, which will delay the eviction.
Meanwhile, the Phoenix Rescue Mission has ramped up hours, just in case. They have also added more housing assistance.
"I think there's gonna be a lot of effort put into diverting people from entering homelessness and getting them to enter into programs," aid Smith. "I also think the number of homelessness, those ranks will rise."
For anyone who wants to learn more about the Phoenix ERA program, you are asked to call 602-534-AIDE(2433) or visit this link.
For information on Maricopa County's ERA, visit this link.
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