According to recent data collected by the Princeton University Eviction Lab, eviction filings are on the rise in several American cities. The Eviction Tracking System, developed by Princeton, has been keeping track of eviction filings across the United States since 2000. The system analyzes tens of millions of public records from state and county databases to provide accurate and comprehensive data.
After a lull during the pandemic, eviction filings by landlords have begun to soar. Factors such as rising mortgage rates, high inflation, escalating rents, and a lack of affordable housing are affecting middle to low-income families struggling to make ends meet across the country. Daniel Grubbs-Donovan, a researcher at the Eviction Lab at Princeton University, stated, “With inflation and the massive increases in rental prices that we’ve seen over the last few years, it’s much worse for low-income renters than it was before the pandemic when we were already in an affordable housing crisis.”
The Eviction Lab found that nearly 970,000 evictions have been filed nationwide over the past year, marking a significant 78.6 percent increase compared to 2021 when much of the country was under an eviction moratorium. By December 2022, eviction filings were nearly back to pre-pandemic levels, resulting in a subsequent rise in homelessness.
The housing market in the United States is also facing its toughest period in a decade, and this trend is expected to continue throughout the year. Rent prices nationwide have increased by approximately 5 percent compared to a year ago, and they are up by 30.5 percent since 2019. These rising rents, coupled with a shortage of affordable housing units, leave most displaced tenants with limited options.
During the pandemic, many households fell behind on their rent payments but were temporarily protected from eviction. However, the Supreme Court ruled in 2021 that eviction moratoriums violated the rights of landlords, leading to the expiration of the nationwide moratorium. Since then, states and cities have allowed evictions to proceed. While federal funding provided emergency rental assistance to tenants, the assistance eventually started to run out in the summer of 2022, leading to a surge in eviction notices.
Low-income renters are finding themselves in an even worse situation than before the pandemic due to factors such as rent increases, inflation, and other pandemic-related financial difficulties. Many are struggling to find steady work or keep up with the rising cost of rent, food, and other necessities. Furthermore, informal evictions, which include lockouts, extreme rent increases, or the termination of a lease without reason, are not well recorded and pose an additional challenge for tenants.
New York City leads the list of cities with the highest number of eviction filings since the pandemic, primarily due to its large population. However, a right-to-counsel program and lenient housing courts have helped to keep evictions in NYC at a lower level than expected. Houston and Phoenix follow closely behind as cities with substantial eviction filings, as eviction protections in these areas ended earlier in the pandemic.
Cities like Austin and Richmond also saw a significant increase in eviction filings after protections expired in 2022. Liberal tenant protections in Austin helped delay the rise in evictions until local bans expired. Minneapolis-Saint Paul, on the other hand, had the highest percentage of eviction filings since the pandemic, with Minnesota experiencing a higher rate of evictions compared to before 2020.
In conclusion, eviction filings are on the rise in several American cities, posing a significant challenge for low to middle-income families already grappling with the effects of inflation, rising rents, and a shortage of affordable housing. The expiration of eviction moratoriums and the gradual depletion of federal rental assistance have further exacerbated the situation, leading to a surge in eviction notices. The housing market remains highly competitive, making it extremely difficult for displaced tenants to find suitable alternatives. Urgent measures are needed to address the affordable housing crisis and provide support to vulnerable renters across the country.