As Maricopa County breaks eviction filing records, leaders tout safety net programs 

Maricopa County has seen a rising tide of eviction filings over the past four years, breaking previous records, but the courts, advocates and state agencies are trying to highlight the resources available for those facing eviction. 

At the Southwest Regional Justice Center in Avondale, judges, legal advocates, state agency members and those who represent landlords and tenants spoke before a small crowd that gathered to hear their thoughts on the on-going rise in evictions, as people walked by the press conference on their way to their own court hearings. 

“We did not see that dreaded tsunami (that officials and advocates had predicted),” Anna Huberman, Maricopa County presiding justice of the peace, said to the crowd, adding that instead it has been a “rising tide.” 

It has been four years since the start of the COVID pandemic, when state and federal officials put a pause on many evictions, leading to some of the lowest numbers Maricopa County and the nation had seen. But those numbers have increased year-over-year ever since. 

That “rising tide” has been a 21% increase in the past four years in the number of eviction filings in the county. Last year, nearly every month the county broke a new record for the total number of eviction filings made. In January of this year, the county saw its largest ever number recorded; over 8,000 cases. 



Not all eviction filings lead to a tenant being thrown out; up to one in three are dismissed when tenants choose to pay and stay or the landlord does not pursue any court resolution, according to Maricopa County Justice Courts. 

Since 2000, the average number of eviction filings for the month of August is around 6,274. Last year, Maricopa County saw a 22% increase, with 7,693 eviction filings for the month. 

The increase was generally consistent most of last year with each month having between a 16% and 26% increase in the average number of filings. Three of the months with the most recorded eviction filings have occurred in either 2023 or 2024. 

As evictions have become more common, so has homelessness in Arizona, which saw an increase by 21% from 2020 to 2022, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. It has led the federal government to give additional aid to Phoenix.

But those in the courts see some bright sides. 

Nearly one third of all cases filed last year were sealed. Those 27,494 cases that were sealed mean the tenant will not have that eviction filing on their credit report. Having an eviction filing on their record can be a major barrier for tenants looking for housing. 

Huberman also touted the court’s ability to do virtual hearings and said that a larger number of tenants are now showing up to court. If tenants do not show up to their hearings, they often are unable to get additional resources from the court and the court is more likely to side with the landlord. 

Now, Huberman said, people who would not have been able to attend due to child care, health or work issues have been able to attend hearings and either find an amicable agreement or get additional resources to help them if they do face an eviction. 

“It brings me no pleasure to be number one in anything that deals with evictions,” Sharron Sauls, Kyrene Justice Court justice of the peace said. Her court has seen the highest number of eviction filings in the county. 

Sauls said that evictions can sometimes be a “necessary remedy” to deal with tenants who are engaging in violence, criminal behavior or refusing to pay rent. 

“We cannot judge on empathy and sympathy. We can only judge on the rule of law,” Sauls said. 

Both Huberman and Sauls said that tenants who end up facing an eviction are given resources as they leave their courts. Those include resources that can help them find supportive housing, legal help or help with payments. 

April Jones, who works in community engagement for the Arizona Department of Economic Security, touted the organization’s Arizona Rental Assistance Program which allows a qualified household to get up to three months rent. However, some in the audience said that landlords will sometimes refuse to accept these payments or the tenants cannot get them in time. 

The program is federally funded and has enough funding to get through June, Jones said. The summer months have been historically high months for eviction filings in the county, which also has been experiencing record heat and heat-related deaths. Last July saw more than 7,000 evictions with the average judgment at around $3,179. 

Courtney LeVinus, the CEO of the Arizona MultiHousing Association, which often lobbies for landlords and developers, said that the rise in evictions is a symptom of a larger issue, a lack of affordable housing. 

It is estimated that the state is short over 270,000 affordable housing units, over 160,000 of which are in Phoenix alone. 

LeVinus pointed to two pieces of legislation that her group is rallying behind as possible solutions. 

House Bill 2297 requires any municipality with a population over 150,000 to allow for multifamily residential development or adaptive reuse on up to 10% of the total existing commercial, office or mixed use buildings within that municipality. 

Senate Bill 1162 would require municipalities to do a housing needs assessment starting in January 2025 and every five years after that. It would also speed up the zoning permit process, which has been a complaint of some developers wanting to build affordable housing. 

Gov. Katie Hobbs has already vetoed one piece of legislation this year aimed at affordable housing, citing concerns over how the bill could have led to a lack of control by cities and towns. 

When asked how the courts will be dealing with the influx in eviction filings and to respond to criticisms that they may “rubber stamp” cases, Huberman and Salsa said they ensure they read every file and are doing their due diligence. 

“We are not rubber stamping and signing any judgment that comes before us,” Huberman said, adding that she has often raised concerns over judgements requested by landlords. 

Sauls said that the failure to appear by many tenants can give that appearance and is why they have been trying to ensure that tenants are participating in the legal process. 

“It may appear as a rubber stamp but I would say we are being efficient,” Sauls said. 

Huberman added that before the “rising tide” of evictions the county is seeing, she used to only do eviction cases on Thursday mornings. Now, her whole Thursday is dedicated to those hearings. 

If you or a loved one is experiencing a crisis with an eviction, you can visit or Community Legal Services for resources and assistance.

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