Rising Property Values Causing a Dramatic Spike in Evictions in this Sunbelt Destination

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Phoenix, Arizona's sunny weather and affordable housing had been attracting a lot of new residents. However, the city is now facing issues due to population growth and rising property prices. The rents and property values are increasing faster than the wages and this has led to eviction of many residents.

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Department, which executes eviction orders in Phoenix, is now handling up to 3,000 evictions per month. Sheriff Department Constables are encountering a different type of tenant evictions now.

Earlier they were evicting tenants who were down on their luck due to factors beyond their control, such as a layoff or injury. Today, they are evicting working people because their wages are growing a lot slower than rents and property values. Constable Lennie McCloskey has been enforcing eviction orders for nearly 19 years, and he tells the American Free Press that he's never been so busy. He is one of 26 Constables responsible for this difficult duty and he estimates that they're all doing "between 19 and 25 evictions every day."

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"I’ve seen guys that are working, trying to work two jobs to keep this going, or they have multiple families live in the house or the apartment… the wages don’t compensate the rent," said McCloskey. If McCloskey and his colleagues average 20 evictions per day, it means nearly 500 Maricopa County citizens are becoming homeless every day. That's 2,500/week and nearly 10,000 per month.

It's indeed a grim statistic, however, it is an inevitable result of fast population growth and a lack of affordable housing. The problem is especially serious in Phoenix because, for many years, it was one of the more affordable urban areas in the American West. While property prices and rents soared in places like San Francisco and Los Angeles, Phoenix stayed steady.

That's not the case anymore, and Phoenix has become the proverbial equivalent of a "secret" fishing hole that's not a secret anymore. It's only an hour from Los Angeles by airplane, and as more Angelenos found themselves priced out of California, Phoenix became one of their preferred destinations. Complicating that even further is the fact that many of the new arrivals could work remotely and earn Los Angeles wages while living in Phoenix.


Glenn Farley works for an economic think tank called the Common Sense Institute summed up the problem in an interview with the AFP when he said, "Five years ago, Phoenix still had a reputation as being relatively affordable; rent was low, housing costs were low. That has pretty much reversed more or less overnight."

He compared Phoenix's current situation to its 2019 housing market by saying, "Servicing a mortgage in 2019 was viable for someone working an average job for 40 hours a week. Today, in 2024 in the greater Phoenix area, you need to work about 68 hours. That’s more than 50 percent longer." Add that to what Farley estimates is a shortage of 65,000 homes and you get the perfect recipe for a housing crisis.

A housing crisis is an apt description of what Phoenix is experiencing right now. Property values are still going up, but every day, more Phoenix residents are being washed away by the rising tide. Ironically, that leaves one group of Phoenix professionals who are getting the workload increase they need to keep pace: the Constables like Lennie McCloskey who carry out the evictions.

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