/ Modified mar 12, 2024 5:26 p.m.

New data: Arizona renters continue to struggle despite strong economy

Pima County saw its second highest number of evictions last year since the pandemic moratorium ended in 2021, but there are good signs in rent prices.

Barrio Viejo Window Housing House downtown hero The window of a house in Tucson's Barrio Viejo.
AZPM Staff

Even with unemployment hovering around 4%, the number of Arizona residents who are behind on their rents this year is higher than experts expect.

That’s according to the latest Housing Insecurity Indicators for Arizona and Pima County, from the University of Arizona’s Southwest Institute for Research on Women.

In a Census survey, 10% of Arizona renters reported they were behind on their rent payments, which is above average for the currently low unemployment rate.

Dr. Keith Bentele said these numbers are surprising.

“This is an extremely robust economy, and we have consistently 10 to 12% of Arizonans who are not current on their rent. We have very high evictions, and housing insecurity is very high.”

75% of Arizona renters reported their rent has gone up in the last year, in the latest Census Household Pulse Survey.

And 2023 nearly tied the record for the highest number of evictions in Pima County since the pandemic moratorium ended in 2021.

According to Bentele, rents increased during the pandemic in part because landlords saw how much money people were getting with stimulus payments. That, combined with the existing shortage of housing, caused the average rent price to jump more than 30% in the last three years.

Four years later, wages haven’t gone up enough to match inflated housing costs, Benetele said.

“Federal stimulus funding and things like that, fell away. And so we're in a situation where incomes have not increased anywhere near that change in housing costs,” he said.

But there may be some hope.

In Tucson, average rent prices grew by 5% last year, which according to the report is a “significant slowdown” compared to previous years. So although rents continue to increase, there are signs prices might stabilize.

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