Phoenix area home prices continue to surge, eviction moratorium set to end July 31, concerns over increased homelessness rise

The expiration of the moratorium could have serious consequences for millions of households nationwide


David Jackmanson (Flickr)

The COVID-19 eviction moratorium is set to end July 31

Michael Russell, Reporter

Home prices in the Phoenix metro area have been skyrocketing, leading the nation in yearly increases for two consecutive years.

The median home value in Phoenix is $381,000, an increase of 44 percent since the pre-pandemic summer of 2019.

While this brings some benefits to the area — including growing equity for existing homeowners — there can be a negative side, too.

First-time homebuyers face increased cost, making it more difficult to qualify for a mortgage.

Another factor leading to uncertainty, and possibly adding to the housing shortage, is an end to the nationwide, Covid-19-based eviction moratorium on July 31.

Both a federal appeals court and a lower court have ruled unanimously that the eviction moratorium put in place last year by the CDC is unconstitutional, likely ensuring no further action will be taken to extend it. The Supreme Court previously ruled 5-4 to allow the moratorium to stay in place through July 31, but signaled no more extensions would be authorized without congressional action.

The U.S. homeless population, already burgeoning from the financial devastation caused by the pandemic, could surge as a result of the inevitable wave of evictions following the end of the moratorium. According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, 6.4 million American households were behind on their rent, and roughly half of those, 3.6 million, faced imminent eviction.

In the Phoenix area alone, over 500 homeless people have died since the start of 2020, many from exposure to the record heat experienced in the Valley over the last two summers.

Within the past year, in response to the COVID-19 crisis, the City of Phoenix established several large parking lots in the downtown area where homeless persons were able to pitch tents.  The camps allowed for social distancing and provided basic necessities. However, these areas were scheduled to be closed by June 30. Some of those persons were able to secure other shelter from the city, but others were not.

Meanwhile, the average monthly rent in Phoenix has gone up to over $1330 per month, an increase of 40 percent since 2018, widening the gap between homelessness and affording a place to live.

President Joe Biden’s administration issued a statement that it will not be taking action to extend the deadline, but Biden did encourage Congress to act on the matter.