Photo by Jose Alonso Few Arizona renters are getting financial relief from the state
Photo by Jose Alonso

Renters in Arizona are having difficulty getting financial relief promised by the state to avoid eviction.

Only a small percentage of funding designed to help at least 2,500 Arizonans avoid eviction during the coronavirus pandemic has been used, despite an overwhelming number of renters applying for help.

Nearly 11,000 Arizonans have applied for the state’s COVID-19 Rental Eviction Prevention Assistance since March 30, according to KJZZ. But only about 600 renters have actually received any financial help.

Gov. Doug Ducey announced on March 27 the addition of $5 million in funding to assist Arizonans struggling to make rent due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There was reportedly $5 million allocated to help eligible renters with up to $2,000 a month. 

To determine eligibility, the Arizona Department of Housing requires applicants to fill out a Program Qualification Self-Assessment form to see if renters may qualify for payment assistance under the state’s relief program. 

“Because of COVID-19, many Arizonans are seeing their hours cut or even the loss of their jobs, and Arizona will be there to support them,” said Ducey. “We want people to be able to continue making rent, while ensuring no one is forced out of their home because they got sick, someone in their family got sick, or they are facing economic hardship.”

One of the factors preventing applicants from receiving aid appears to be strict eligibility requirements and excessive documents being requested. 

Bruce Liggett, who directs a Maricopa County regional agency, told KJZZ that agencies like his are not receiving enough resources.

“The fact that we’ve got almost 4,000 cases assigned to us, and we have the ability to pay for 500 — is our current estimate — means that most people are not going to be able to receive this benefit,” said Liggett.

In fact, 29 percent — almost a third of all Arizonans — say they feel like their financial housing situation is less secure than before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. This is according to new statistics in “The Economy and Housing” report by Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute.

But while the report found that Arizonans making six figures were less likely to be financially inconvienced due to the pandemic, those who make $150,000 or more had the highest percentage of missed housing payments, followed by individuals who make between $100,000 and $150,000.

Low-income Arizona renters who earn less than $25,000 are third in line, making up 18 percent of those who have missed making monthly payments.