PHOENIX — Since March 2020, renters have had limited protections from eviction for non-payment either through state or federal moratoriums due to financial losses from the coronavirus pandemic.
During that time housing workers and advocates have speculated about just how serious the impact would be to renters once the eviction ban was lifted.
But for the past several months, researchers with the Knowledge Exchange for Resilience at Arizona State University have been compiling Census data, eviction court records, and rental assistance information to create a computer model that they believe gives a good idea of how many households could be affected by evictions in the metro-Phoenix area.
Their conclusion is that 20% or 80,000 households will be at risk for eviction after the July 31 expiration date.
Executive Director Patricia Solis said the same model that made the prediction can be used by municipalities to try to reduce those numbers as well. It allows users to plug in various scenarios to see what the outcomes will likely be if implemented.
"They build a simulated population where we can test out what could happen if we change different parameters about what's happening to people in our county," she said. "What if we were able to get out more assistance to more households? What if we changed the eligibility rules, the income eligibility rules?"
She said having the ability to use different scenarios and knowing the outcomes can help cities create more effective policies.
That is how the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) told ABC15 it is planning to use the models.
TJ Reed, the Regional Homelessness Project Manager for MAG, which is responsible for facilitating regional solutions for housing and homelessness said trying to predict how bad evictions will get has been hard to do because the numbers vary depending on which landlord or advocacy group they speak to.
"All of them sort of tell a little bit of a different story, ranging from 20% of our renters to under 3% of our renters being evicted," he said.
He said the ASU models give a look at the potential scope and scale of the problem.
"With that, we've been sharing all of this information with the cities in the county to prompt and bolster this the money that they're putting into rental assistance," he said. "We're working with people to try to make those processes quicker, so that when somebody does apply, it'll take less days to get approved than not."
But slow-moving rental assistance has persisted throughout the pandemic leaving renters and landlords frustrated, which some fear will contribute to a significant influx of evictions.
"The main takeaway, regardless of what side of the spectrum you land on, or if you go in the middle, this is going to impact our community and likely thousands will be displaced," he said.
While no one can predict is where all those who lose their homes will go, "we do anticipate that there is always going to be a percentage of people who are evicted will experience homelessness," Reed said.
He suggests people who know they are in facing eviction reach out to family, friends, and other support systems to prevent homelessness in the short term. And to call 211 or click here for information about how to apply for any assistance that renters may be eligible for in the long term.
"If you are struggling to don't wait and reach out for support," Reed said.