Landscape of the Eviction Crisis

Read more about the eviction crisis in the U.S. with these links to reports, news media, databases, and articles.

Table Of Contents

Overview of the Eviction Process

Most evictions proceed through set phases: from making a rental agreement and moving in, to problems emerging, to the initiation of an eviction action (formal or informal), to a possible court process, to downstream continuing consequences for those involved.

Official evictions go through the courts.

Unofficial evictions are done without going to court — and possibly done illegally through pressure by landlords on tenants.

The graphic below maps the general legal process of an official eviction (this can differ in jurisdictions, but this is typically the process that eviction lawsuits follow).

Eviction and Housing Reports and News Articles by State

Explore these links to reports and news articles (organized by state) concerning the American housing crisis, with an emphasis on eviction.

National Eviction reports

Badger, Emily, and Quoctrung Bui. “In 83 Million Eviction Records, a Sweeping and Intimate New Look at Housing in America.” The New York Times: Upshot, 2018.

Badger, Emily, and Quoctrung Bui. “In 83 Million Eviction Records, a Sweeping and Intimate New Look at Housing in America.” The New York Times: Upshot, 2018.

Blau, Max. “Black Southerners Are Bearing the Brunt of America’s Eviction Epidemic.” The Pew Charitable Trusts: Stateline Article, January 18, 2019.

Desmond, Matthew. “The Eviction Epidemic: Forced Out.” The New Yorker.

Eckart, Kim. “Study Reveals Gender, Racial Disparities in Evictions.” Phys.Org, February 11, 2020.

Fresh Air radio show from NPR: First-Ever Evictions Database Shows: ‘We’re In the Middle Of A Housing Crisis’, April 2018.

Fresh Air radio show from NPR: First-Ever Evictions Database Shows: ‘We’re In the Middle Of A Housing Crisis’, April 2018.

Ginger, Kristen. “Eviction Filings Hurt Tenants, Even If They Win,” Shelterforce, 2018.

Kirchner, Lauren and Matthew Goldstein. 2020. How Automated Background Checks Freeze Out Renters. The New York Times. May 28.

Funk, Kyle, Tina Lee, and Lauren Lowery. “Using Data to Understand Your Local Eviction Crisis.” National League of Cities, October 6, 2020.

Swenson, Kyle. “Renters thought a CDC order protected them from eviction. Then landlords found loopholes.” Washington Post, October 27, 2020.

Mead, Joseph, and Marissa Pappas. “When Calling 911 Makes You a ‘Nuisance’ and Gets You Evicted.The New York Times. November 9, 2017.

On the Media radio show from WNYC: The Scarlet E series on Eviction in America, June 2019.

On the Media radio show from WNYC: The Scarlet E series on Eviction in America, June 2019.

Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation. “Racial Equity Impact Assessment.” 2009.

Sandstrom, Heather, and Sandra Huerta. “Low-Income Working Families Fact Sheet: The Negative Effects of Instability on Child Development Low ‐ Income,” Urban Institute, 2013.

Lee, Tina and Lauren Lowrey. “Building a Just and Fair Anti-Eviction Strategy.” National League of Cities, September 3, 2020.

California Eviction reports

Inglis, Aimee, and Dean Preston, 2018. “California Evictions Are Fast and Frequent.” Tenants Together. http://www.tenantstogether.org/sites/tenantstogether.org/files/CA_Evictions_are_Fast_and_Frequent.pdf.

Otis R. Taylor, J., 2018. “So, you got an eviction notice and have a few weeks to find an apartment…” San Francisco Chronicle. Available at: https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/otisrtaylorjr/article/So-you-got-an-eviction-notice-and-have-a-few-13270312.php.

The University of Chicago, Center for Data Science and Public Policy. “Preventing San Jose Housing Violations.” Accessed March 12, 2020.

Treuhaft, Sarah, Jessica Pizarek, Ángel Ross, and Justin Scoggins, 2018. “Solving the Housing Crisis Is Key to Inclusive Prosperity in the Bay Area Contents.” San Francisco, CA. https://www.policylink.org/resources-tools/solving-housing-crisis-bay-area.

Hawaii Eviction Reports

Geminiani, Victor, Jennifer F. Chin, and Isaiah Feldman-Schwartz. “Evicted in Hawaii: Lives Hanging in the Balance.” Lawyers for Equal Justice, 2019.

Illinois Eviction Reports

Housing Action Illinois, 2018. “Prejudged: The Stigma of Eviction Records.” http://housingactionil.org/downloads/EvictionReport2018.pdf

Housing Action Illinois. “Eviction in Illinois.” Chicago, IL, 2019. https://housingactionil.org/downloads/EvictionBrief_February2019.pdf

Chicago Evictions: https://eviction.lcbh.org/ .

Maryland Eviction Reports

Public Justice Center. “How Renters Are Processed in the Baltimore City Rent Court.” Baltimore, Maryland, 2015.

Massachusetts Eviction Reports

Evictions in Boston Report. Boston, 2020, by researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the non-profit organization City Life/Vida Urbana.

Michigan Eviction Reports

Akers-et-al. “The Eviction Machine: Neighborhood Instability and Blight in Detroit’s Neighborhoods” 2019.

Robert Goodspeed and Jim Schaafsma. Michigan Evictions Research and Policy Conversation. October, 2020.

Robert Goodspeed, Kyle Slugg, Margaret Dewar and Elizabeth Benton. “Michigan Evictions: Trends, Data Sources and Neighborhood Determinants.” 2019.

New York Eviction Reports

Make the Road New York. “Home Court Advantage: How Landlords Are Winning and Tenants Are Losing in Brooklyn Housing Court.” Brooklyn, NY, 2011.

New Settlement Apartments’ Community Action for Safe Apartments, Community Development Project, and Urban Justice Center. “Tipping the Scales: A Report of Tenant Experiences in Bronx Housing Court,” 2013.

Barker, Kim, Jessica Silver-Greenberg, Grace Ashford, and Sarah Cohen. “The Eviction Machine Churning Through New York City.” The New York Times. May 20, 2018.

NYU Furman Center. “Trends in New York City Housing Court Eviction Filings.” November, 2019.

Ohio Eviction Reports

Jones, Bob. “Akron Facing Highest Eviction Rate in Ohio, 24th Highest in the Country.” ABC News 5 Cleveland, December 16, 2019.

Elaina Johns-Wolfe, June 2018. You are being asked to leave the premises”: A Study of Eviction in Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Ohio, 2014-2017. Sociology Department, University of Cincinnati.

Lucy May and Craig Cheatham, June 2018: What Nearly 50,000 eviction filings in four years have done to Hamilton County, I-Team 9.

Nick Swartsell, April 2018. These Cincinnati neighborhoods suffer the most evictions. CityBeat.

Affordable Housing Advocates and Northern Kentucky University, Eviction/Displacement Video interviews, Part 1: Faces of Displacement (6:25 minute video) and Part 2: Housing Court (5:40 minutes).

A FAQ from the court clerk on eviction process in Hamilton County.

Pennsylvania Eviction Reports

Pittsburgh Foundation, “Eviction in Allegheny County: A Mixed-Methods study,” April 2021.

City of Philadelphia, “At Home: Eviciton Prevention & Response Progress Report“, September 2019.

Reinvestment Fund, Policy Brief: Evictions in Philadelphia, January 2017.

Philadelphia’s Mayor’s Office’s Taskforce on Eviction Prevention and Response, June 2018.

Washington State Eviction Reports

Cookson, Tara, Maragret Diddams, Xochiti Maykovich, and Edmund Witter. “Losing Home: The Human Cost of Eviction in Seattle.” King County Bar Association, Seattle Women’s Commission, 2018. https://www.kcba.org/Portals/0/pbs/pdf/Losing Home 2018.pdf

Thomas, Timothy A., Ott Toomet, Ian Kennedy, and Alex Ramiller. “The State of Evictions: Results from the University of Washington Evictions Project.” Seattle, February 17, 2019. https://evictions.study/washington/

Washington D.C. Eviction Reports

Chason, Rachel. “Georgetown University Works with D.C. Agency to Improve Rental Inspection Policies.” The Washington Post. Accessed July 10, 2020.

Wisconsin Eviction Reports

Deena Greenberg, Carl Gershenson, and Matthew Desmond. “Discrimination in Evictions: Empirical Evidence and Legal Challenges.” 2016.

Academic Research on Eviction and the Housing Crisis

These links to academic research concerning eviction offer visions of upcoming solutions and innovations for eviction-related issues.

Bezdek, Barbara. “Silence in the Court: Participation and Subordination of Poor Tenants’ Voices in Legal Process.” 20 Hofstra L. Rev. 533 20 (1992): 533–608.

Bernal, Daniel W, and Margaret D Hagan. “Redesigning Justice Innovation: A Standardized Methodology.Stanford Journal of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties XVI, no. 2 (June 2020): 335–84.

Desmond, Matthew, 2012. “Eviction and the Reproduction of Urban Poverty,” American Journal of Sociology, 118(1), pp.88–133. Available at: https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/10.1086/666082

Desmond, Matthew, and Carl Gershenson. “Who Gets Evicted? Assessing Individual, Neighborhood, and Network Factors.Social Science Research 62 (2017): 362–77.

Garboden, Philip ME, and Eva Rosen. “The Threat of Eviction: How Landlords Shape a Contingent Tenure.City & Community, January 2019, 1–38.

Humphries, John Eric, Nicholas Mader, Daniel Tannenbaum, and Winnie van Dijk. “Does Eviction Cause Poverty? Quasi-Experimental Evidence from Cook County, Il.” SSRN Electronic Journal, 2019.

Lebowitz, Julie, Auditor-In-Charge Nancy Augustine, and Kathleen Patterson. Housing Code Enforcement: A Case Study of Dahlgreen Courts.” Washington, DC, September 24, 2018. www.dcauditor.org.

Martineau, Kim. A Model for Predicting Where Landlords May Be Skimping on Heat.” Columbia University Data Science Institute, October 8, 2015.

Northridge, Jennifer, Olivia F. Ramirez, Jeanette A. Stingone, and Luz Claudio. “The Role of Housing Type and Housing Quality in Urban Children with Asthma.Journal of Urban Health 87, no. 2 (March 9, 2010): 211–24.

Pastore, Clare. “Gideon Is My Co-Pilot: The Promise of Civil Right to Counsel Pilot Programs.” University of the District of Columbia Law Review David A. Clarke School of Law 17, no. 1 (2014): 75–130.

Steinberg, Jessica. “Informal, Inquisitorial, and Accurate: An Empirical Look at a Problem-Solving Housing Court.” Law and Social Inquiry 42, no. 4 (2017): 1058–90. https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.268900.

Steinberg, Jessica. “Demand Side Reform in the Poor People’s Court.” Connecticut Law Review 47, no. 3 (2015): 741.

Summers, Nicole. “The Limits of Good Law: A Study of Housing Court Outcomes.” University of Chicago Law Review 87, no. 1 (2020): 3.

Collinson, R. and D. Reed. “The Effects of Evictions on Low-Income Households.” (2018).

Deena Greenberg, Carl Gershenson, and Matthew Desmond Discrimination in Evictions. (2015).

Chester Hartman and David Robinson. Evictions: The Hidden Housing Problem. (2003).

Karlee M. Naylon, Anna C. deDufour, and Karen A. Lash. Civil Legal Aid Funding in the Time of COVID-19. 2020.

John and Terry Levin Center for Public Service and Public Interest
Stanford Law School. San Francisco Right to Civil Counsel Pilot Program Documentation Report. 2013.

Organizations working on the eviction crisis

The following organizations are intended to support those currently experiencing eviction related hardships, and the majority exist nationally.

National Housing Law Project

“The National Housing Law Project’s mission is to advance housing justice for poor people and communities.  We achieve this by strengthening and enforcing the rights of tenants, increasing housing opportunities for underserved communities, and preserving and expanding the nation’s supply of safe and affordable homes.”

National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty

“The National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., and is the only national legal group dedicated to ending and preventing homelessness. We operate programs across the United States that serve America’s more than 3.5 million homeless families, children and individuals.”

National Housing Trust

“The National Housing Trust is the nation’s leading expert in preserving, improving and maintaining affordable housing – ensuring that privately owned rental housing remains in our affordable housing stock and is sustainable over time. Using the tools of real estate development, rehabilitation, finance, policy advocacy in conjunction with sustainable practices, the Trust is responsible for saving more than 36,000 affordable homes in all 50 states, leveraging more than $1.2 billion in financing.

National Low Income Housing Coalition

“Founded in 1974 by Cushing N. Dolbeare, NLIHC educates, organizes and advocates to ensure decent, affordable housing for everyone. Our goals are to preserve existing federally assisted homes and housing resources, expand the supply of low income housing, and establish housing stability as the primary purpose of federal low income housing policy.”

National Housing Conference

“NHC is all about connection. Our unique vantage point in the housing community means we can connect research to practice, advocate across the continuum of housing and deliver the research, resources and experts you need to do your work to move housing forward. Whatever your interest in housing, you can come to NHC for information to fuel your work and to collaborate for positive policy change at every level.”

Just Shelter

“Just Shelter was founded by Matthew Desmond and Tessa Lowinske Desmond to raise awareness of the human cost of the lack of affordable housing in America and to amplify the work of community organizations working to preserve affordable housing, prevent eviction, and reduce family homelessness.”

National Alliance to End Homelessness

“The National Alliance to End Homelessness is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization whose sole purpose is to end homelessness in the United States. We use research and data to find solutions to homelessness; we work with federal and local partners to create a solid base of policy and resources that support those solutions; and then we help communities implement them.”

National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel

“The National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel (NCCRC), organized and funded in part by the Public Justice Center, is an association of individuals and organizations committed to ensuring meaningful access to the courts for all.  Founded in 2003, our mission is to encourage, support, and coordinate advocacy to expand recognition and implementation of a right to counsel for low-income people in civil cases that involve basic human needs such as shelter, safety, sustenance, health, and child custody.”

RVA Eviction Lab

“The RVA Eviction Lab, housed at VCU within in the Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs, focuses on meeting eviction data and research needs and supporting the work of local government, community-based organizations, elected officials, and other advocates. The RVA Eviction Lab takes the necessary deeper dives into the qualitative and quantitative aspects of evictions. Because this problem and the associated research questions will continue to shift both regionally and locally, we make data public, reliable, and responsive to the needs of the community, region, and the state.”

Rent Ready Norfolk

“Rent Ready Norfolk (RRN) is a comprehensive, voluntary program designed to increase the number of viable residential rental properties in the City of Norfolk and assist renters and landlords.”

Innovations by Type

Communities are trying out different kinds of programs to improve eviction, including a range of measures focused on particular services or broader policies. These lists compile the Laws and Policies, Service programs, and Technology tools that are being piloted. Please contact us if you have more examples to include!

Laws and Policies

Tenant Protection + Eviction System Reform legislation has come in single local ordinances, or suites of legislation at state level, including:

  • Virginia state legislature’s new laws in 2019 (House Bill (HB) 1889/Senate Bill (SB) 1445, SB 1448, HB 1922/SB 1627, and HB 2054/SB 1676) that extend the tenant’s ability to resolve an eviction by paying back-rent; speeding up the period in which a landlord can hold onto a writ of eviction; and requiring all landlords to offer tenants written lease (or have to use a model lease’s default terms). In 2020 there was more proposed legislation around capping late fees and allowing tenants more defenses in an eviction action if there were issues with housing conditions.
  • New York state’s Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019, that stops courts from selling eviction data; sealing eviction records that resulted from foreclosure; protecting tenants from landlord rejections because of previous landlord-tenant court cases; prohibiting eviction or penalties based on tenants raising complaints about living conditions; and giving the tenant more time in the eviction court case to raise defenses and prepare for moving, giving them more opportunity to end the case by paying all rent due, and limiting what money the landlord can get
  • Washington State passed a tenant protection law, http://www.federalwaymirror.com/news/eviction-reform-passed-by-state-legislature/
  • The city of Washington D.C. passed a Tenant Bill of Rights in 2014, intended to provide tenants with an overview of the basic rights of tenancy in the District.
  • The city of San Francisco passed Prop F, Tenant Right to Counsel in November of 2018 which guaranteed any tenant right to counsel in an eviction matter.
  • San Jose, California has a Tenant Protection Ordinance http://www.sanjoseca.gov/DocumentCenter/View/68577
  • Illinois has an Immigrant Tenant Protection Act that offers tenant various immigration-related protections. Landlords are not allowed to disclose or threaten to disclose a tenant’s citizenship status for the purpose of intimidating or retaliating against the tenant. They are also barred from bringing evictions “based solely or in part on the immigration or citizenship status of a tenant.” If they violate the law, tenants are empowered to sue for damages in civil court.  The bill was inspired partly by a similar law enacted in California in 2018.  More Information/Public Act 101-0439

Civil Right to Counsel, in which tenants (possibly subject to income or jurisdiction eligibility) get free lawyers : http://civilrighttocounsel.org/map, with an evaluation of NYC’s right to counsel program by NYU Furman Center

The city of Philadelphia Amended Chapter 9-800 of The Philadelphia Code, entitled “Landlord and Tenant,” by adding a new Section 9-808, entitled “Legal Representation in Landlord Tenant Court,” providing for access to free legal representation to the City of Philadelphia’s low-income residents facing eviction in Landlord Tenant Court.

Just Cause eviction laws, that restrict the circumstances under which landlords can evict tenants — only if they have violated the lease or otherwise have ‘just cause’.

Masking + Sealing of Eviction Records: new laws under consideration in DC

Moratorium on evictions in Winter, either through formal law or informal policy, like

  • In Seattle, which has provisionally passed a law (as of Feb. 2020) through the City Council that bans some winter evictions between November and February;
  • In DC, where the sheriffs have an official policy not execute an eviction order when there is precipitation falling or when the weather is forecast to be below 32 degrees;
  • In the Chicago-area, where sheriffs and courts have policies not to execute eviction orders on Christmas, New Year’s Day, or when it is too cold (usually under 15 degrees)

Moratorium on eviction filings, execution of writs, and utility shutoff during an emergency like a public health epidemic. See some of the policy and rule trackers for the COVID-19 pandemic:

Services

Collaborative housing courts, like in Red Hook Community Justice Center in Brooklyn, NY (read its origin story), and the Harlem Community Justice Center

  • Rochester, NY is considering a new housing court model, that would allow the court to make orders to landlord about habitability; allow tenants to represent themselves more easily; and have more court-supervised administrators following up to make sure necessary changes are made

Eviction Diversion Programs and Prevention programs, that stop court actions against tenants with emergency funds, mediation, and securing housing for the tenants

Court-based Self-Help clinics, Legal Services, and Navigators that provide free brief-service lawyers and volunteer paralegals to help a tenant prepare for an eviction hearing, get through negotiations, reach settlement, and sometimes provide in-court representation to clients

Pro Bono Training that increase the supply of trained housing law lawyers + volunteers, like Poverty Justice Solutions in New York City or Massachusetts’ online training to volunteer in their Lawyer for the Day clinics

Technology tools

Tech to document living conditions, gather evidence, and correspond with landlords

  • JustFix.nyc tech tools for tenants, that provide people with the ability to record problems with their living conditions, write official letters to their landlord, prepare evidence for court hearings, and connect with other tenants who are dealing with similar issues/landlords
  • Dear Landlord (Australia) and Hello Landlord (US) – for tenants to write formal legal letters about problems, and to create a trail of evidence that can be useful in future court actions

Tech to help tenants (and advocates) prepare court filings, answers to eviction lawsuits, legal strategies on defenses to use, and scripts to use at hearings

  • MADE self help for eviction in Boston, that lets tenants
  • Arizona Eviction Self Help website (Pima County, Arizona), that walks tenants facing eviction through their possible defenses, options, and scripts they can use to communicate their issues

Tech to train tenants and landlords on their rights, and how to represent themselves in a legal proceeding

  • Represent online simulation game for self-represented tenants (Northeastern University and local legal aid groups in New England), that prepares tenants for what to expect at housing court 
  • Rentervention chatbot (Chicago), that lets tenants chat with an interactive, pre-programmed system to learn their rights and legal options based on their scenario

Data and Tech to identify poor living conditions and possible future evictions, landlord-tenant legal issues

  • Heat Seek NYC/GotHeat that use a low-cost temperature sensor system to identify buildings that have problems with heat. This might allow for easier ways to verify tenants’ complaints, document problems, and direct inspection resources. GotHeat also has a data strategy, of data sets of housing at risk for heating problems to find likely targets for inspection.
  • Data-Driven Inspections in San Jose, in which the city’s Code Enforcement Office prioritizes its inspection strategy based on a data model developed to be more precise at finding likely housing code violations. The model looks at the amount of time since past violations; presence of previous violations; absence of recent building permits; nearby violation rates; and other factors. This was built with fellows from the group Data Science for Social Good, and Univ. of Chicago’s Center for Data Science and Public Policy (see their final summary).
  • DC Housing Inspection Algorithms, in which the city’s Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs has changed its inspection model of rental housing based on a collaboration with Georgetown University data science students, to develop an algorithm that better targets the inspections + be more proactive in finding violations. See more on this work in DC, with this pdf report.

Tech to inform policyThe Cost of Eviction Calculator, to estimate downstream costs of eviction on the community level