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Evictions rising now that pandemic moratorium has been lifted

Virus Outbreak Evictions Rising
Posted at 1:08 PM, Jan 05, 2022

When the federal eviction moratorium was in place, evictions were down across the country. Now, those numbers are a bit more complicated.

"For example, in some places currently, you can't file to evict someone who has already filed for rental assistance, and so in places like that, we've seen that numbers have not gone up as much," said Emily Lemmerman, a research specialist at Princeton University's Eviction Lab. "In other places, eviction filings are closer to 100% of the historical average."

The Eviction Lab has been tracking filings in six states and 31 cities. They say that in Connecticut, Houston, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and Columbus, evictions are back to pre-pandemic levels.

However, the agency notes that numbers are likely higher in those localities and elsewhere. That's because there are a number of informal eviction measures landlords can use to push tenants out, which don't show up in the court case filings that they track. Those measures include changing locks, shutting off utilities and other intimidation tactics.

The bigger issue now is that some tenants are reporting that it's harder to find a new place to live as rent prices have soared across the country.

The Eviction Lab can be helpful to people looking for a new home and help improve their chances of not being evicted again.

Research shows many evictions in some cities can be attributed to certain buildings.

"Two-thirds of all evictions in Tucson originate from about the same 300 buildings every year," Lemmerman said. "We found in the cities that were tracking eviction filings during the pandemic that even up to, like, 30% of all evictions in a single city can be attributed to about 100 buildings."

Lemmerman also says the long-lasting effects of rental assistance are clear. That's something federal and local governments have been working to distribute better.

Some cities have also seen success with certain policies. Philadelphia, for example, has an eviction diversion program that forces filings to go to mediation before an eviction takes place. That gives tenants time to work out an agreement with their landlord.