New research estimates that at least 1.36 million evictions were prevented in 2021 by government policies that aided struggling renters.
The Eviction Lab’s 2021 research report shows that low-income renters and renters of color saw the sharpest drop in eviction filings through the COVID-19 pandemic’s second year.
The Eviction Lab at Princeton University has been tracking evictions in six states and 31 cities weekly since March, 2020. These places are home to one-fourth of all renters in the country. Each researched area represents different areas of the country, and diverse rental markets.
Eviction Bans and Emergency Programs Kept Renters in Their Homes
A wide range of federal, state, and local resources helped low-income renters stay in their homes during the coronavirus pandemic. These included the federal, state, and local eviction moratoriums that stopped landlords from filing for eviction.
Before the pandemic, 865,000 eviction filings were typically made a year in the places tracked by the Eviction Lab. In 2021, there were 434,304 eviction filings in these places. This is a difference of nearly 430,000 eviction filings that would have happened in a typical year.
Emergency rental assistance programs paid back rent and kept millions of low-income renters from losing their homes. Increased legal aid and court eviction diversion programs also helped thousands of desperate renters facing eviction.
Eviction Lab researchers used statistical regression methods and historical data for the rest of the country to do national estimates. Nationwide, they determined that renter protections, emergency rental assistance, and other supports kept 1.36 million renters from eviction.
Low-Income and Black Renters Saw the Largest Drop in Eviction Filings
When Congress authorized Emergency Rental Assistance early in the pandemic, it gave priority to renters with the lowest incomes and most impacted by the pandemic. The Eviction Lab’s research shows that renters in low-income and minority neighborhoods saw the greatest reduction in eviction filings in the pandemic’s second year.
The largest reductions in eviction filings happened in low-income neighborhoods. These are neighborhoods where the median income is less than $50,000. There were about 240,000 fewer eviction filings in these neighborhoods for 2021 than in a typical year before the pandemic.
Neighborhoods where the majority of residents are Black also saw a large drop in eviction filings. In 2021, there were just over 120,000 fewer eviction filings in majority-Black neighborhoods.
More than one-fourth of all avoided evictions were in Black neighborhoods, but only 1-in-10 neighborhoods tracked by the Eviction Lab are majority-Black. Nearly 105,000 fewer cases were filed in majority-Latino neighborhoods. Majority-White neighborhoods saw a much smaller reduction of 95,000 eviction filings in 2021.
The Eviction Lab says that the success of pandemic programs for renters means that we do not have to accept the status quo of a widespread eviction crisis. The data shows that sustained assistance has dramatically reduced housing instability among the most vulnerable people.