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More Evictions Expected As CDC Moratorium Expires

The federal order to protect renters from losing their homes during the pandemic has now expired. Housing advocates expect a wave of evictions to follow.

“We believe we’re going to see this month and next month an increase in evictions," said Pam Bridge, director of legal services and advocacy with Community Legal Services. "We don’t know how many yet, we’re just preparing for the worst scenario.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's ban on some types of evictions was intended to assist renters who lost income due to the economic consequences of the pandemic and to keep people sheltered as COVID-19 spread. The moratorium was extended multiple times, but the Biden administration  in late June said it was extending the order for "one final month." The moratorium expired July 31.  

As of early July, more than 177,000 Arizonans were estimated to be behind on housing payments, according to the  Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey. More than 42,000 evictions have been filed in Maricopa County since the start of the pandemic,  according to Princeton University's Eviction Lab. That's fewer filings than the Phoenix area sees in an average year, but Bridge fears Maricopa County will now quickly return to pre-pandemic eviction rates. 

"It's a horrendous experience for families," Bridge said. 

A record of eviction often has lasting impacts on renters' credit scores or their ability to find other housing, Bridge said. She encourages anyone facing an eviction to seek financial assistance or legal services. 

“They just shouldn’t give up, because giving up means they’re going to get a default judgment on their record, and the consequences are too high to just walk away," Bridge said. "They need to make sure they understand all of their rights.” 

Bridge said tenants should find out if their landlord has a federally backed mortgage. If so, landlords must provide 30 days' notice before an eviction. She said that could buy enough time for tenants to apply for housing assistance. There are  still hundreds of millions of dollars in aid  available in Arizona.

Katherine Davis-Young is a senior field correspondent reporting on a variety of issues, including public health and climate change.