Rental Assistance to Continue Statewide
Arizona’s 2020 eviction rates lowest in decades
Since the COVID-19 outbreak began last spring, the Arizona Department of Housing has made $8.8 million available through the COVID-19 Rental Eviction Prevention Assistance Program. The Department expects to commit approximately $12 million in resources for rental assistance by the time the State-funded program closes out within the next few weeks.
Besides partnering with local Community Action Agencies to distribute assistance, the Department also partnered with Springboard Solutions, a service provider that has been a long-time partner of the Department in delivering mortgage foreclosure assistance. We closed the online application portal in late December to address all current requests for assistance before new efforts are launched using the latest available federal resources in the COVID-19 relief bill passed by Congress, which are expected to be provided under different parameters.
Nearly 8,000 households who applied through the State’s program have been assisted, many with multiple months of rental assistance to avoid evictions. Arizona also distributed nearly $10 million in rental subsidies directly to over 800 landlords through the Rental Property Owner Preservation Fund.
Last summer, many of Arizona’s largest cities and counties also began distributing CARES Act funding to provide rental and utility assistance, independently of the Department’s program.
Throughout the pandemic, local and national housing advocates have been sharing their concerns about a possible eviction crisis due to job losses brought about by this virus. Because of these rental assistance efforts, such a crisis has been mitigated this year. The federal government’s action to provide $25 billion for such assistance nationwide in 2021 will help continue to prevent evictions due to COVID-19. Arizona currently expects to receive enough federal funding for rental assistance to meet needs in 2021.
Putting 2020 In Perspective: 10 Year Eviction Averages
While detailed eviction statistics are not available for all areas of the state, we know that statewide eviction filings have tallied about 80,000 per year over the last decade, with the majority of those filings occurring in Maricopa County. In 2020, total eviction filings reached only about 40,000, with most of the filings taking place in the first three months of the year, before pandemic moratoriums took place.
A look at Maricopa County’s eviction statistics is helpful to understand the situation in Arizona’s most populated area. From 2010 to 2019, the average number of annual eviction filings over the 10 year period was 64,131. Of those filings, 71% resulted in a monetary judgement, and 37% resulted in the issuance of a Writ of Restitution, which would result in a forced tenant removal.
A look back at the recession years of the late 2000s shows that eviction filings in Maricopa County were topping over 80,000 annually, while reaching over 100,000 statewide. As of November 2020, Maricopa County’s calendar year eviction filings numbered 33,782, with 6,016 Writs of Restitution issued. Since March 2020, tenant protections have been in place to protect renters affected by the pandemic. A look at the 33,782 filings show that 46%of those filings occurred in the first three months of the year, or before the end of March 2020, and Writs of Restitution were issued on 18% of those filings. Due to these trends, we are confident that additional rental assistance dollars becoming available this year will help prevent a significant increase of evictions. While there is a perception that eviction rates have increased over the past decade, an analysis of the data shows that eviction rates generally remained steady over the past decade and were significantly lower than the end of the preceding decade. When factoring in Arizona’s large population increases, the per capita eviction rate in Arizona has actually been slightly declining over the past few years.
Federal Assistance Coming
Nevertheless, the loss of employment brought about by the pandemic means that renters who never worried about paying rent in the past may now be worried and Arizona stands ready to assist. The U.S. Department of the Treasury, which will be overseeing the rental assistance program at the federal level, is releasing guidance to states and local governments. Arizona is closely monitoring these developments and will be working to move available resources to those in need as soon as funding is made available. Likewise, Arizona’s counties and municipalities with populations over 200,000 will also be eligible to administer resources at the local level.
Housing Matters | Winter 2021