Eviction hotspots found in most cities before and during the pandemic

Blair Arch at Princeton University
Blair Arch at Princeton University.
The Eviction Lab at Princeton tracks evictions in several states.
Photo © Jon Niola at https://flickr.com/photos/jniola/

Research at Princeton University shows that a large portion of eviction filings are made by just a few landlords in a handful of buildings. 

In addition, most cities have neighborhoods that account for the largest share of eviction filings, both before and during the pandemic. Black renters continue to face eviction at rates higher than their numbers.

This discovery was reported by a Princeton research team called the Eviction Lab, which maintains an Eviction Tracking System (ETS). The ETS tracks evictions in several states and about a dozen representative cities around the country.

Eviction data for these places is updated regularly. Eviction Lab researchers can often make national projections about the number of evictions and the effects of different eviction protections because their sample is very representative.

The Eviction Lab also maps eviction numbers and rates by neighborhood in selected cities. They are able to map eviction filings down to the Census tract, and even to particular apartment buildings.

Researchers at the Eviction Lab found that a small number of buildings owned by a few landlords accounted for a large portion of evictions in most cities. In a presentation on a September, 2021 National Low-Income Housing Coalition webinar, the researchers highlighted eviction numbers from Houston, Texas.

The top building for evictions in Houston had 215 eviction filings during the pandemic. The top 100 buildings for evictions accounted for almost 1-in-5 eviction filings (18.5%) during the pandemic.

Eight cities tracked by the Eviction Lab had more than 25% of eviction filings come from the top 100 buildings during the pandemic:

  • Greenville, SC (47.4%)
  • Memphis, TN (38.4%)
  • Indianapolis, IN (36.9%)
  • Jacksonville, FL (35.4%)
  • Columbus, OH (29.0%)
  • St. Louis, MO (28.6%)
  • Cincinnati, OH (26.8%)
  • Dallas, TX (25.9%)

Eviction hotspots are also concentrated in particular neighborhoods. These are mostly poor, often with a large minority population. Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) eviction moratorium was in place until recently, these neighborhoods continued to experience the most evictions throughout the pandemic.

In Tampa, Florida, for example, poor neighborhoods in the urban core experienced the highest rates of eviction. Although evictions dropped in some Census tracts within these neighborhoods, eviction rates remained high for much of these areas during the pandemic. 

All of the cities tracked by the Eviction Lab show this pattern to some degree. The places that had the most evictions before the pandemic tend to be the places where evictions continue during the public health crisis.

Many of these eviction hotspots are poor neighborhoods with large minority populations. Before the pandemic, Black renters faced a disproportionate share of eviction filings. Black renters continued to be filed against at high rates during the pandemic. Black renters faced 33% of eviction filings while the CDC protections were in effect, despite making up only 22% of all renters.

In some cities, the CDC moratorium has had very little effect. Several cities tracked by the Eviction Lab had eviction rates more than 60% of what was typical before the pandemic. These cities include Las Vegas, Nevada; Tampa, Florida; Columbus, Ohio; Jacksonville, Florida; Gainesville, Florida; and Cincinnati, Ohio.

The Eviction Lab estimates that the CDC eviction moratorium helped prevent over 1.55 million eviction filings while in effect. When combined with state and local eviction protections, at least 2.4 million eviction filings were prevented nationwide. Now that only a few states still have eviction moratoriums, it is critical that renters get emergency rental assistance as fast as possible to avoid a wave of evictions.

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