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Pilot program offers struggling tenants financial relief

Many families and individuals have suffered financial hardship. For some, their inability to produce a steady income can lead to eviction and homelessness. In Arizona, especially Maricopa County, evictions have become prevalent due to the severe lack of affordable housing.

In 2018, evictions in Maricopa County totaled 43,800; a 3% increase from 2017. The Arizona legal system focuses on pushing out tenants who are unable to pay. The process is quick and swift - if a tenant doesn’t show up to trial, they lose - if the tenant does show up, the state overpowers them with expert attorneys concentrated on protecting the landlord’s rights to the property. Summarized, it’s a lose-lose situation for the tenants in need of help.

Per the Arizona Republic, one housing advocate described Maricopa county as an “eviction mill.”

A glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel

A program to aid tenants with their financial issues and subsequent evictions was scheduled to launch, on a pilot basis, in September 2018. That did not happen, and the evictions kept growing. Eight months later, in April 2019, the Arizona Department of Housing rolled out a pilot version of their eviction prevention program.

The program focus is to curb the eviction process before it reaches a courtroom. To achieve this, the department will provide struggling tenants with emergency cash grants who have received instruction to either “pay or vacate.”

If you hadn’t heard of this program, it launched very quietly as the department felt too much attention would create high demand, and they only have a certain number of funds to distribute. The program will aid tenants in six Arizona counties: Maricopa, Mohave, Pima, Pinal, Yavapai and Yuma.

A lack of affordable housing can put immense hardship on a struggling family or individual. Slow moving government procedures does not help the case.

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