New Paper: Eviction and Segmented Housing Markets in Richmond, Virginia.
In this new open-access paper in Housing Policy Debate, Eviction and Segmented Housing Markets in Richmond, Virginia, RVA Eviction Lab co-directors Ben Teresa and Kate Howell look at eviction as a formative institution of rental markets, not just a feature of some of them – which means that landlords use eviction to create and maintain housing scarcity and profitability in unstable markets.
We find that in Richmond, some landlords contribute to eviction disproportionately, 2-3 times the share of housing they own: the majority of evictions are pursued by 23 landlords who own about 22% of all rental housing. Top 10 highest evicting landlords (by rate) pursue 25% of all evictions and own 9% of housing.
Just as eviction is unevenly concentrated across ownership, the geography of eviction in the city is uneven and concentrated in the Northside and Southside of the city.
Tenants report that late fees and threat of eviction trap them in housing- because it’s better to stay than risk losing the home – while simultaneously imperiling their ability to find new, stable affordable housing, should they have a future housing search with an eviction filing record because trying to find housing with an eviction on your record, “is worse than having a criminal record.”
If eviction is a mechanism owners wield to make unstable markets function profitably, then policy should work to eliminate conditions and institutions that produce instability. We need to redistribute market-making power away from landlords as a class, suggesting wide array of policies. These policies include decriminalization of various offenses that prevent tenants for accessing housing, affordable and accessible healthcare to prevent bills from piling up, living wage laws to support stable and reasonable budgets, rent registry/regulation to support transparent behavior and to know where renters live, right to counsel, and public investment in housing to that tenants have a broader range of affordable housing. We need to be explicit that most of the highest-evicting housing cannot be provided in a way that is both profitable and stable.
For theory, we think there can be a lot of fruitful work done by bringing together urban economics and critical urban political economy – within segmentation and submarket theory and beyond.