Data Update: Eviction Filings during the COVID-19 Crisis

Data Update: Eviction Filings During the COVID-19 Crisis

June 26, 2020

Kathryn Howell, PhD; Ben Teresa, PhD; Woody Rogers, Connor White

Eviction in the Commonwealth has exposed existing race-based inequalities in the built environment and policy landscape that have developed over more than a century, including Redlining, Urban Renewal, and ongoing racist lending practices. In the past two years since the release of the Princeton Eviction Lab data revealed that the Commonwealth of Virginia had some of the highest eviction rates in the country across its large and small cities, community-based organizations, advocacy organizations, local governments, and state agencies have created diversion programs and hired new staff to develop long term solutions to the challenge of housing instability. Yet eviction rates have been stubborn, and the health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 virus in the commonwealth have further exposed inequalities across the commonwealth.


In this data update, we examine eviction filings to understand both expand our understanding of the geography of past housing instability and look to the future to think strategically about how to engage and prevent housing displacement moving forward. We use filings as an indicator of instability because the threat of eviction can lead to many of the same mental health, employment and educational impacts of an actual move. Moreover, because the bulk of eviction proceedings are due to non-payment, the receipt of a notice means that a household has, for a number of reasons, had trouble paying rent, and this may suggest budget instability and other bills that may be missed in the effort to remain in the home.


We therefore examine filings from January to May in 2019 and 2020 that have received a hearing – as well as those on the docket moving forward with indicators such as race, COVID-19 infections, and Unemployment Insurance claims at the zip code level to illustrate the risk moving forward. While we give the overall landscape for Henrico County, Chesterfield County and the City of Richmond, we take a deep dive into Richmond to illustrate risks to housing instability moving forward. Though zip code is a broad data category, it allows us to look at all data through the same unit of analysis as the Commonwealth does not release eviction, COVID or UI data at a more granular level.

Achieving Coordinated Access to Services for Tenants

Achieving Coordinated Access to Services for Tenants

Talya Lockman-Fine

April 2020

In recent years, growing awareness of the eviction crisis has prompted a growing number of responses, mainly at the state, city, and local levels. So far relatively unaddressed, however, has been the issue of efficiently and effectively connecting tenants to the resources and services they need. In Richmond, as well as in many other places, the lack of a centralized access system — through which tenants’ needs are identified and they are matched with relevant providers — has a number of consequences: tenants have difficulty identifying and accessing relevant resources and services; providers are unable to serve the tenants they are best equipped to serve; and policymakers and others are unable to identify gaps, duplication, and opportunities for coordination that could drive improvements in service provision. Part I of the report outlines this problem generally and provides an overview of a number of key components such a system should entail, including: an accessible tenant interface; an up-to-date mapping of providers, the services they offer, and how to access them; policies and procedures for matching tenants to providers; a monitoring and evaluation system; and mechanisms through which analysis of the system can drive improvements. Part II focuses on Richmond, detailing the need for such a system, what key components could look like, and a high-level action plan for moving toward it. The appendix includes research on currently existing analogues, typically referred to as one stop shops or housing resource centers, in other jurisdictions. The hope is that this report is a starting point for building an evidence base on what works in terms of centralized access systems for tenants at risk of eviction.

Eviction in Richmond: Pathways, Services and Next Steps

Eviction in Richmond: Pathways, Services and Next Steps

Alexandria AsheRVA Eviction Lab

Since the 2018 study by Princeton University revealed that Richmond has the second-highest eviction rate of all major cities in the United States, local organizations and leaders have been joining efforts to resolve the eviction crisis and target root causes to the issue ( Eviction has a disproportionate impact on youth, as families with children are more likely to be evicted than other types of renters (Bernet et al., 2015; Desmond & Gershenson, 2017). Eviction and its accompanying housing instability also have acute consequences for children’s physical and mental health, development, and cognitive performance.  Households facing eviction make decisions in distress and often flood into poorer quality neighborhoods, in turn perpetuating neighborhood inequality and instability at both the household and community levels and decreasing children’s opportunities for upward mobility (Chetty et al., 2018; DeLuca et al., 2019; Desmond & Gershenson, 2017). As a result, having services to address both immediate needs during an eviction proceeding and to find stable, affordable housing in the long term is critical to helping households recover from evictions.

In Richmond, where service providers – including social services and legal services providers – have been on the frontlines of eviction for more than a decade, there have been ongoing efforts including pro bono legal services, emergency rental assistance and utility assistance. Yet after the 2018 report, there has been greater support for tenant-based assistance. In October 2018, the Virginia Poverty Law Center partnered with the Legal Aid Society and initiated the Eviction Helpline to help tenants understand their rights regarding the eviction process. However, the coordination, quantity and quality of services remains an ongoing challenge.

Using interviews with individuals who called the Eviction Helpline in 2019, this brief investigates the ways the available services are used by individuals in crisis. We start by discussing the pathways these residents take to eviction then discuss the services they used through the process. This brief ends by discussing potential alternatives to the current structure used based on interviews and national best practices. Based on the interviews, we have been able to find patterns in the eviction process that are shared that help contribute to our larger understanding of what evictions look like within our community.

Multifamily Properties backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac offered forbearance if they do not evict

March 24, 2020

Yesterday, The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA)  announced that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will offer mortgage forbearance for multifamily property owners who suspend all evictions for renters unable to pay rent due to the impact of the coronavirus. This means that buildings with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages have the opportunity to keep their tenants in stable housing and continue to pay their mortgages. Given the ongoing research around the need for stable affordable housing and the impacts of eviction on already marginalized households, this gives landlords an unequivocal reason to stop eviction filings, late fees and threats of eviction due to nonpayment of rent. While the City of Richmond has halted eviction proceedings in the legal system, this relief by FHFA means that landlords with these mortgages can also support tenants – many of whom will have been out of work – by not filing immediately after the crisis has abated. 

Over the past several months, we have built a database of multifamily properties in the City of Richmond, bringing together data about the location, building conditions, financing, ownership, subsidies and eviction rates to get a more granular picture of eviction in Richmond. Based on these data, we developed a list of the properties with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. See more in the link below…

Multifamily Properties in Richmond backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

Eviction is more than a present-day policy challenge

Early last year, our research illustrated the impact of race on evictions in Richmond – and across the Commonwealth of Virginia. Over the past year, we have worked to better explain the role of race in eviction rates. We see evictions as more than just one day – but rather, it is the result of budget instability – or one bad day –  limited housing options, rent burden (paying more than 30% of your income for housing), and housing quality problems; the cause of housing instability, homelessness, absenteeism in school and work and mental and physical health challenges; and an indicator of structural issues including inequality and race-based patterns of discrimination.

This week in Metropolitiques, we argue that Richmond’s eviction crisis is not just a question of current housing policy, but a historical project of displacement and demobilization of Black communities. It is part of a longer system of inequality baked into the build environment and maintained through ongoing upheavals in the community. In short, eviction, for neighborhoods in the Northside, East End an Southside of Richmond, is just one in more than a century of collective forced moves.

The neighborhoods experiencing eviction today were epicenters of foreclosure during the height of the housing crisis. In fact, large-scale investors that bought up single-family rental properties in Richmond are evicting at a rate of almost 20%. But these neighborhoods were also impacted by Urban Renewal, slum clearance and highway projects. Further, as the Digital Scholarship Lab at the University of Richmond illustrates, these neighborhoods were Redlined legally until the Fair Housing Act made housing discrimination based on race illegal. We know that Redlining prevented access to homeownership by People of Color – specifically African Americans. We also know that legal segregation propped up white property values and maintained exclusivity for homeowners. The further privileging of homeowners over renters in public meetings and community engagement therefore has significant implications for democracy. Just as importantly, the history of this dispossession of African Americans means that privileging owners has racial dimensions, diminishing opportunities to be heard.

Policy and planning practice often speaks to intergenerational poverty as a root cause of household outcomes, but we never investigate questions of intergenerational community upheaval, instability and the resultant loss of possessions, land, community and collective power. Our policy remedies must look both broad across the needs of the housing continuum – but also deep to the impacts of policies that intentionally uprooted communities over and over in the 20th Century.



Welcome to the RVA Eviction Lab!

Over the past year, we have posted all of our research and information with the Center for Urban and Regional Analysis at the VCU Wilder School for Government and Public Affairs. But we also realized it was hard to find that site, and we could not update as often as we liked. So we developed this site to communicate about the research, initiatives and data we are working on at the lab. The site is still under construction, but stay tuned as we add more content over the next few weeks. We are also still available on twitter @RVAEvictionLab