Housing Costs and Availability Affects Family Pets
Carolina had lived in the same rental property for 13 years with her family and their dog, Maggie. Suddenly, the landlord called to say they needed to vacate the property within 30 days. He was selling the house they had called home for over a decade.
Finding affordable, pet-friendly housing in Phoenix is a challenge. To secure a place in a month is an even greater feat. Somehow, Carolina was able to overcome this obstacle. However, on such short notice she was unable to afford the pet deposit required by the new landlord in addition to all the costs moving entails. Suddenly, she had to make a tough choice. Put a roof over their heads or risk becoming homeless continuing to search for pet-friendly housing they could afford.
Housing Crisis in Phoenix
Sadly, Carolina’s story is not unique as thousands of families face this challenge every day. Phoenix is now the fifth largest city in the country and still growing. The demand for affordable housing far outweighs the availability and this crisis impacts more than just pet owners. On the national scale, Phoenix is currently the “3rd worst in the country” meaning there are only “15 available affordable housing units per 100 low income families.” (Source: Housing Gap Interview)
If you have ever rented a place to live, you know that finding a rental home or apartment is challenging. With pets involved, the number of options decreases further and this problem is not exclusive to one income level. Housing issues can very easily lead to surrendering a dog or cat to the shelter. No family should have to choose between homelessness or keeping their pet, but many do. Making such a tough decision has become more common as housing costs rise in Phoenix.
Housing Assistance Gap
According to a recent AZ Central article, “A family in metro Phoenix, the low-income housing coalition found, needs to earn $54,960 to afford a modest three-bedroom apartment. That requires 106 hours of minimum-wage work each week”.
Assistance with affordable housing is available for extremely low-income families but has very strict requirements. Many residents lack the financial means needed to afford a decent place to live, but earn too much according to government housing programs to access help. Sometimes this shortage of funding for housing is caused by a situation they have little control over, like a layoff or sudden illness in the family.
Where does that leave families? So many are living pay check to pay check, doing their best to make ends meet. Does this mean they don’t deserve pet companionship? Absolutely not. Animals bring comfort, joy, healing and health, and we believe those benefits shouldn’t be restricted to a very small percentage of owners who can afford the best care and resources pets deserve especially with thousands in need of homes.
Loving pet owners face all kinds of external factors that can change their ability to provide for their animals. Housing is just one of those reasons and is far more complicated than many realize.
Housing Effects on Pet Surrender
Carolina and her family arrived at the shelter to surrender Maggie because they felt there was no other option. Landlords and management companies often charge pet deposits and monthly pet rental fees. Many also have restrictions on breeds, weight, and the number of pets per apartment or property. Proof of spay or neuter and vaccinations may also be required. All these policies further strain access to affordable housing accommodations for families desperately trying to keep their animals.
Jaime, another shelter intervention client, faced a similar challenge. He loves his pets but had no extra money for a hefty pet deposit after a sudden change in his living situation. Read more about his story here.
This month, a family arrived to surrender their dog because he had ticks and the landlord stressed he did not want an infested dog living in his rental, so the dog had to go. With no money to secure new housing if they were evicted and had no ability to access veterinary care – keeping a roof over their head took precedent. Thankfully, because of generous contributions from donors like you, providing tick treatment was enough to keep this dog at home and out of the shelter system. Sometimes the situation is that simple, but it goes to show how vital maintaining housing in this day and age can be.
Rising rent and mortgages pinch available funds for pet care for many Arizonans. In fact, 15% of The Arizona Pet Project’s shelter intervention cases this year have been housing related. We are grateful for your continued support to provide alternatives for families who find themselves facing these challenges. It is your support that keeps pets just like Maggie at home and out of the shelter.