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Demand for emergency family shelter has reached 'crisis' level in Phoenix

It’s now been three months since the CDC’s moratorium on some types of evictions ended. In that time, demand for homeless services in Phoenix has steadily increased. 

“We need to address this right now. This crisis is happening as we speak, we’re right in the middle of it," said Jackson Fonder, CEO of UMOM, Phoenix’s housing hub for families facing homelessness. 

In October,  KJZZ News reported the waitlist for shelter at UMOM was six weeks long. Fonder said demand has only increased since then. He said families now wait up to eight weeks for shelter. He said UMOM’s 155 units are constantly occupied.

“You’re looking at about 500 family members on this campus every night. We’re full," Fonder said. "We're seeing an unprecedented number of families experiencing homelessness." 

Fonder said Phoenix is in a perfect storm: Housing costs are soaring and evictions are up. In October, the number of eviction filings in Maricopa County reached the highest point since the start of the pandemic, according to  data from Princeton University's EvictionLab. Fonder expects his shelter will see record demand by the end of this year. He said Arizona does not have enough shelter beds, especially for families.

"We simply need more emergency shelter and wraparound services for these vulnerable families,” Fonder said. "No child should have to live on the streets, that's just crazy."  

→  Arizona shelters are seeing a spike in demand for services as eviction moratorium ends

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