Maricopa County evictions could reach 15-year high


Data: Maricopa County justice courts; Chart: Axios Visuals; Pandemic eviction protections were in place in 2020 and 2021

Maricopa County landlords filed 7,693 evictions last month — the third highest monthly total ever.

  • Only August 2005 and September 2005 saw more, with 7,902 and 7,699, respectively.

Why it matters: The Valley’s housing shortage has increased rents and made it harder for many families to afford a place to live.

  • Once an eviction is on a tenant’s record, it becomes much more challenging to find a landlord willing to rent to them.

Threat level: If eviction filings continue at the same pace through the rest of the year, we could see more than 80,000 filings.

  • Context: Maricopa County hasn’t topped 80,000 filings since 2007, according to county justice court data.

Of note: Just because a landlord files for eviction, doesn’t mean a renter will be forced out. Often, the tenant pays up after the filing and keeps their housing or moves out before they’re evicted.

What they’re saying: “As soon as you think you might be falling behind in the rent, ask for help. Tell the landlord right away,” Maricopa County presiding justice of the peace Anna Huberman said.

  • Some pandemic-era rental assistance programs still have money to disburse, as do a handful of other city and nonprofit resources. But the majority of the $500 million-plus Arizona received for rental assistance during the pandemic has been spent.

The latest: Representatives from the state and local governments, justice courts and nonprofits gathered last week for a seminar on building a better eviction policy for Arizona.

  • Speakers shared data on the short- and long-term impacts of eviction, including worse education outcomes for children who are evicted.

Zoom in: Samira Nazem of the National Center for State Courts and Senta Leslie, Virginia’s associate director of eviction prevention, provided examples of how their teams created systems to prevent people from losing housing, including:

  • Deploying social workers at courthouses to make sure families in crisis can access all available resources;
  • Requiring landlords to send fliers about eviction mediation with an eviction notice;
  • Target resources in communities with the highest eviction rates;
  • Provide proactive support by reaching struggling families through the school system.

The bottom line: Leslie recommended Arizona focus on flexibility as it considers an eviction prevention program, because every eviction has unique circumstances.

  • But, the most important thing Arizona can do is just start: “[You] can fix kinks in the system as you go — you can’t fix an eviction after it happens,” she said.