What’s up Phoenix? It’s your favorite tenant advocates, back with another exposé of the corruption that defines your city’s governance.
After hearing so many AZ news outlets stress the importance of applying to the City of Phoenix’s rental assistance program, and having experienced the nightmare that is the app process, we decided it was time we spotlight the sham it truly is.
The City of Phoenix, whose proud mayor is Kate Gallego, received $293 million dollars of CARES Act funds in late March. $20 million of that money was used to set up a rent relief program to assist the city’s 700k+ renters.
If you do the math, $20 million / 700k PHX tenants (let’s lowball and assume it’s only 700k) = $28.51 per tenant in rental assistance. Even if we count a family of 5 as part of one household under the 700k tenant population, that’s less than $150 in rental assistance for a family of 5. That money was meant to cover March, April, May, all the way up until now. It’s difficult to know how many tenants lost their jobs due to COVID, but we think it’s fair to assume it was a significant percentage. Even lowering the number of tenants in need to 50% only bumps the rental assistance to about $60 per tenant, or $300 for a family of 5. How is $300 supposed to cover a family of 5’s rent for 5 months?
The average rent in Phoenix, AZ is $1,141/month. Given that number, and assuming a family of 5 in every household (which does not reflect our reality), the $20 million that Kate Gallego earmarked for tenants would only cover about 12.5% of tenants, and only for one month. Over 5 months, that number drops down to 2.5%. What about the rest of us?
For that lucky 2.5%, the process of obtaining the aid is an abysmal system designed to fail. To apply, you must call 602-534-AIDE (602-534-2433) for an appointment. The line opens ONLY on Mondays, beginning at 8am. It takes multiple immediate redials to get through the “Sorry. The line you dialed was busy; please try your call again” message. If or when you get through, the system says “you are number (empty air time) in queue” and you wait on hold for maximum of one hour, at which point the system drops your call.
City of Phoenix Open Data (https://phoenixopendata.com) has absolutely zero data on the amount of aid that has been disbursed(as of the time of this posting). A representative for AZ Multihousing Association says that out of the $127 million in aid available in AZ, only about $1 million had been disbursed as of July 1, 2020.
Maricopa County supposedly has a rental assistance program as well, but Phoenix residents are ineligible.
So let’s break it down:
No eviction protections
Underfunded and broken rental assistance program
Dysfunctional and delay-ridden unemployment insurance system
Humanitarian Crisis, and Widespread Homelessness is inevitable for Phoenix.
This doesn’t mean you should stop applying if you are a tenant in need!
We highly encourage and recommend you continue to apply, and continue to call, despite this system’s gross inefficiencies.
This post is to shame Kate Gallego for doing a lethal job of protecting her tax-paying constituents, and to let tenants know they are not alone.
Kate Gallego, if you don’t like what we have to say, put PHX Tenants Union in charge, give us your six-figure salary, and divest funds from Phoenix Police. Impose strict rent controls, cancel as many rents as possible via code violations enforcement, and utilize the dozens of other tactics at the disposal of the city mayor. Be reminded, we elected you and are paying you to do that.
Phoenix Tenants Union organizers