Maricopa County had more evictions filed in October than in any other month this century

PHOENIX - Inside this west Valley courthouse, people are kicked out of their homes every week – mostly on a screen and in front of a judge.

Judge Anna Huberman has heard it all.

"I said people coming from the hospital. They just got out of surgery. I’ve had people call me from out of state because they were at a funeral. I mean it can be heart-wrenching," she said.

In October alone, landlords filed 7,948 eviction complaints in Maricopa County – edging out the previous record set in 2005. The average delinquent amount hovers just over $3,000.

"You can somehow manage to cut down on something and come up with $400, but it’s hard to cut back to come up with $3,000," said Huberman.

Part of the problem is rising rents, but also a million more people live in the county than there were two decades ago.

David Liebowitz, of the Arizona Multihousing Association, argues per capita Valley evictions are actually down.

"Mom and pop duplexes or big companies – they try really hard to work with their renters, so nobody loses their home," he said. "Eviction is a last resort, but every month we’re faced with the stories – they make it sound like people are just getting hunted out of their places to live, and the housing industry takes that very seriously."

After 11 years, Judge Huberman sees the numbers getting worse, but by the time the case comes here, her hands are tied.

"Hardship, which is what we hear most often if they couldn’t pay because they had some unexpected emergency or loss of income, that just does not a defense for nonpayment of rent," she said.

Huberman says she tries to be a resource for tenants, telling them about different ways to get help. That very often includes reaching a new deal with the same landlord who just evicted them.