Phoenix has earned a reputation as one of the worst cities in the country for renters, especially those with low income. In downtown Phoenix, and increasingly across the valley, expensive and expansive luxury complexes have replaced affordable and even moderate rentals. The average one-bedroom costs Phoenicians $960 a month, and rental prices have increased $150 since early 2016.  Wages have not increased at the same rate. According to SmartAsset, the typical Phoenix resident making $14.59 an hour must work 66 hours to cover that amount. For the significant portion of the population making much less or who are on a fixed income, housing climbs further and further out of reach.

For every 100 renters who fall into the “extremely low income” range (less than 30% of the area median income), Phoenix has only 20 affordable, vacant rentals, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. It should come as no surprise, then, that more than 25,000 households faced eviction in Maricopa County last year—a 12% increase from 2016. That figure does not include people who choose to leave before receiving a formal writ of restitution in the form of an orange slip on their door or a visit from the constable.

In Maricopa County, most tenants do not have an opportunity to find a lawyer and fight their evictions. Instead, those who cannot scramble to cover back pay and fees have no choice but to leave. For those without a support network, that can mean leaving the life they know behind and moving their families onto the streets or into a shelter.

The trauma doesn’t end when the orange slip has been posted. The already small list of affordable rentals shrinks even more for someone who has recently lost their home to an eviction. Apartments that do work with individuals who have dealt with eviction can charge astronomical deposits and other fees, trapping people in the same cycle of financial insecurity that lead to an eviction to begin with. Phoenix’s affordable housing crisis will not end until either rent falls at existing complexes, or more resources are invested into developing more affordable housing. However, eviction prevention measures and rental assistance can provide families with a path to secure housing.