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Millions of dollars in federal relief money remains unused as people face evictions

More than 700 evictions were filed in the last week of September.

ARIZONA, USA — Millions of dollars in federal relief money have been left unclaimed as people are being kicked out of their homes following the end of the federal eviction moratorium.

According to Princeton University’s Eviction Lab, there have been 52,775 eviction filings in Maricopa County since the pandemic started. Of those filings, 743 occurred in the last week of September after the moratorium ended.

As part of the CARES Act passed last year, the federal government sent about $568 million to the state of Arizona to distribute to people facing evictions, according to the Arizona Department of Economic Security. But only 5% of that money has been dispersed.

“This is a lot of money but it also isn’t a process that a lot of state governments are used to doing...so it’s an implementation process that takes some time,” said Emily Lemmerman, a research specialist for Eviction Lab.

RELATED: RESOURCES: Eviction moratorium comes to an end, affecting thousands in Arizona

The Department of Economic Security said that assistance is still available:

“The formal eviction process is governed by the state's landlord-tenant laws. There are many factors that are outside the purview of des regarding eviction. For example, the Supreme Court in August blocked the president’s eviction moratorium, which allowed property owners to begin the process of eviction.

As the more populated cities and counties in Arizona are administering their own rental assistance programs, the State program is limited to primarily rural communities. However, we understand that there is still a need in the community and want to ensure individuals are aware of the assistance available to them. We have reached out to DES clients within the service areas who utilize our other services, and we will continue reaching out to other Department clients through email and text.

In addition, DES has issued messaging through social media, web content and direct outreach to local media outlets to continue to spread the word about the availability of this program. DES has also held multiple forums for community partners in these areas of the state. We will continue to provide communication and outreach to the areas we serve, and further collaborate with our county partners to ensure individuals in need are aware of the availability of the program.

You can apply for assistance here

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