New research shows where evictions are most likely to happen

University of California, Berkeley Campus
University of California, Berkeley Campus.
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Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley have developed a tool to identify areas where evictions are most likely to happen when pandemic eviction protections end.

The Urban Displacement Project (UDP) at UC Berkeley has created maps that show what neighborhoods have high “housing precarity.” This means that renters living in these neighborhoods are at high risk of losing their homes when eviction moratoriums run out.

The study lists the Top 10 metro areas with the most housing precarity. These are places where low-income renters will be especially vulnerable to eviction when the federal and state protections expire.

  1. Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV
  2. New Orleans-Metairie, LA
  3. Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI
  4. Providence-Warwick, RI
  5. Buffalo-Cheektowaga, NY
  6. Memphis, TN-MS-AR
  7. Cleveland-Elyria, OH
  8. Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD
  9. New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA
  10. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA

Their key findings for the 53 metro areas draw important conclusions that:

  • 41% of all households live in neighborhoods with a moderate-high level of vulnerability to eviction or displacement.
  • 52% of all renters live in neighborhoods with a moderate-high risk of eviction or displacement.
  • 73% of Black-headed and 63% of Latinx-headed households live in neighborhoods with a moderate-high risk of eviction or displacement.
  • 74% of Black renters live in neighborhoods with a moderate-high risk of eviction.

UDP was founded to look at the effects of gentrification and how poor residents are displaced in cities around the world. It has also focused its attention on how the pandemic has affected renters in U.S. cities. 

UDP looked at data for 53 metropolitan areas with populations greater than 1 million people. They created an index measuring “housing precarity.” This Housing Precarity Risk Model ranks neighborhoods on how vulnerable residents are to being evicted or displaced by an economic crisis or natural disaster.

The assessment used data from the U.S. Census, local public health departments, Princeton’s Eviction Lab, and other sources. Because the data is at the Census Tract level, it is possible to see differences between neighborhoods in these metro areas. Moderate and high levels of housing precarity mean that large numbers of renters in those neighborhoods are at risk of displacement or eviction.

To determine the level of housing precarity in a neighborhood, UDP researchers looked at the risk of eviction and how vulnerable residents are to being displaced. Earning an income is key to paying rent, so the researchers also looked at 2020 unemployment and the change in unemployment from 2019-2020. They also took into account neighborhood racial segregation.

UDP has used this data to create an interactive map. Users can look at each of the 53 metro areas. Users can also choose map overlays that compare neighborhood housing precarity, risk of eviction, risk of displacement, racial segregation, and other factors.

The authors include a number of recommendations for state and local governments. These are steps that can be taken to keep tenants from being evicted, help them afford housing in the short term, and build more affordable housing over the long term.

States and cities can extend eviction moratoriums to protect renters while the pandemic still rages. Restricting evictions to just cause cases, like damage to an apartment, will keep those who have lost income during the pandemic from getting evicted for nonpayment of rent. The authors also recommend that right-to-counsel laws be passed so that renters have legal help in eviction court.

The report recommends that emergency rental assistance be extended to renters and landlords in need. It should have as few barriers as possible on eligibility, apply to back rent, and target the renters who are most at risk of losing their homes.

Over the long term, the report recommends a number of strategies to build more transitional housing affordable rental units. These include land banks, community land trusts, hotel conversions, and housing trust funds.

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