In 2018, Maricopa County had over 44,000 evictions, which exceeded U.S. counties with double the population.
While millions across the country prepare for Thanksgiving, more than 2,200 renters in Maricopa County have something else on their mind: eviction.
Maricopa County Justice Court calendars reveal 2,257 eviction hearings scheduled during the three days they are open this week, topping last year’s Thanksgiving week, when 1,608 evictions complaints were brought before judges. If the judge rules in favor of the landlord, state law gives the tenant five days to either appeal the decision or move out.
Only one of the 32 precincts that make up the Maricopa County Justice Courts did not have any eviction hearings scheduled for the week. The Country Meadows precinct, located on the west side of the Valley, has the highest number of evictions, with 197 hearings occurring this week.
Country Meadows judges presided over more than 5,000 eviction hearings in 2018, one of the highest precinct eviction rates in the county.
In response to the rise in evictions, the Arizona Department of Housing established a statewide pilot eviction prevention program designed to provide financial and educational assistance. The program is available in regions of every county where eviction rates are highest, including Country Meadows. The program received initial funding of $2 million and is expected to provide assistance for 1,206 households.
If evicted, former tenants are in danger of becoming part of another growing statistic in the county: residents experiencing homelessness. The Maricopa County Association of Governments reports that approximately 6,614 individuals in Maricopa County were experiencing homelessness at any given time throughout 2019. The county has seen an upward trend in homelessness over the past seven years.
In an in-depth report on evictions, the Arizona Republic found that evictions in the county have seen an upward trajectory since the Great Recession. In 2009, there were approximately 19,000 evictions in Maricopa County. By 2018, the number climbed to just over 44,000. Compare that with New York City, whose population is double Maricopa County, where reports show there have been roughly 43,000 evictions since 2017.
National housing advocates point to rising rent and stagnant wages as two of the main reasons evictions are on the rise. In its annual Out of Reach report, the National Low Income Housing Coalition found that a minimum wage worker in Arizona must work 57 hours per week to be able to afford a one-bedroom apartment.
But as it stands, Arizona currently has a severe deficit of affordable housing units available. NLIHC found that there are only 25 affordable units available for every 100 Arizonans in need of housing. This leaves those in need of housing – including the thousands in Maricopa County facing eviction this week – with extremely limited options.