PHOENIX — In April, ABC15 followed Maricopa County constables as they served eviction judgments to renters around the Valley.
The court orders were the last step in the eviction process where residents are given just hours to vacate their homes.
One of the stops was at a Glendale apartment complex near 43rd Avenue and Camelback Road. A grandmother and her two teenage grandchildren were inside.
One of the teens explained that her mother was not home. The constable asked them to give her a call so she could explain that they were being evicted that day.
Several minutes later, their mother arrived, received information about where she might receive services for housing if she needed them, then had to pack up and leave.
"Right now, my mind is... I don't know what to do," she told the constables.
According to a United Way analysis from March 2021, Phoenix leads the nation in eviction filings during the pandemic despite an ongoing ban on evictions for non-payment, which in years past was the cause of most eviction cases.
Newly released preliminary numbers from April 2021 show 2,477 eviction filings, according to Maricopa County Justice Courts. That number was 1,770 in April 2020 immediately after the state implemented a ban on eviction actions for non-payment if it is COVID-19 related. In 2019, the last normal year for eviction policies, the number of filings was 5,029.
Filings alone do not necessarily mean a person will be removed, but they are the beginning of the eviction process.
The mother that we watched be removed from her home contacted ABC15 a couple of days later. She said that she, her elderly mother, her son, her daughter, and their dogs had been sleeping in their SUV.
"I put the seats down and I fill the air bed," she said. "My mom and I just sit in the front driver's seat."
ABC15 did not identify renters who were evicted during the ride-along with the constable and agreed to continue that policy during our interview with the renter.
One woman said she is a medical technician who spent the last year helping to treat COVID-19 patients and contracted the disease. After first recovering in 2020, she said she tested positive a second time.
"And I had been to the hospital a couple days prior to, and they said I had an upper respiratory infection. And then I ended up going back because I was really feeling sick. And then they said I had tested positive," she said.
A positive diagnosis meant time off from work at a new job for which she says she was in her 90-day probationary period.
"She said it wasn't gonna work out. She needed somebody that was gonna be there."
After missing weeks of work, she said she got behind in rent and was not able to catch up. She said her lease was in an ex-boyfriend's name, so she did not qualify for rental assistance or CDC moratorium protection.
But working to keep her new job while homeless was proving to be difficult with her vehicle doubling as their home.
"I can't keep them in the car. While I'm at work, I have nowhere to take my family," she said.
She explained she applied for several housing programs but had not heard back.
"I just need this little help, you know, just to get me into something," she said.
ABC15 contacted the City of Glendale which reached out to Phoenix Rescue Mission who put the family up in a hotel for several days. We're told they were added to a list for permanent housing when it becomes available.