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In this data update, we offer a picture of eviction and housing instability in Virginia during the final quarter of 2020. To contextualize the recent numbers, we provide data from 4th quarter of 2020 and compare it with data from the 4th quarter in 2019. Similarly, we compare 2020 annual data with that of 2019. Finally, we look at the data on eviction and housing instability over time to track the pandemic’s persistent impact on households across the Commonwealth. The impact of eviction moratoria and rental assistance programs enacted at the state and federal levels in response to the COVID-19 crisis remains evident in the fourth quarter’s lower numbers for both eviction filings and judgments compared to the 2019 quarter. Although the recently-extended Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) eviction moratorium continues to protect many individuals from eviction, without deeper and more targeted support for renters, it simply delays an inevitable surge of evictions upon its expiration. Access the full report via the link below.
Key Findings in the Report
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.
Youth Research Projects on Eviction in the City of Richmond!
Starting in the Fall of 2019, The RVA Eviction Lab and VCU Social Work Professor Alex Wagman received a grant from VCU to build partnerships with 3 youth-centered organizations: Advocates for Richmond Youth, 6 Points Innovation Center/Storefront for Community Design, and RVA Thrives/Virginia Community Voice. The partnership, named Youth Empowerment for Eviction Research (YEER) spent the past year with a cohort of five young people from each organization learning about the roots of eviction and housing instability, developing research questions and learning about research methods.
This fall, the young people are ready to launch their research projects and are actively recruiting for research participants. See their project descriptions below for information about how to engage with their projects!
Advocates for Richmond Youth: We are working to capture the unique experiences and learn the impacts of evictions on the LGBTQIA+, Black and Brown community in GREATER Richmond. We will be interviewing young people ages 18 to 30 who live in the Greater Richmond area, identifying as LGBTQIA+ and black/brown. We want to build trust with other young people while also sharing our experiences. We hope to use the data to map out the movements of the participants throughout their eviction process and afterwards.We also hope to use the data to raise awareness of the experiences of LGBTQI+ black and brown people who experience evictions. We hope that the findings from the research will help individuals be the change they want to see, create more resources (ex. Second chance housing opportunities, forgiveness, etc), and reduce barriers to help people get back into safe; affordable; and stable housing. (Link to their eligibility survey is here )
6 Points Innovation Center (City Builders Program) We believe eviction causes mental health challenges such as anxiety and depression that may lead to committing gun violence. We think that trauma, such as domestic violence in the home and even trauma triggers, like loud noises can lead people to be jumpy and afraid causing them to use a gun as self-defense. We believe there is both intentional and unintentional violence, brought on by trauma. We’ve all had personal experience with trauma, eviction or housing displacement, so this is very important to us.
With the surveys we hope to give people a sense of comfort and relatability. We’re currently learning about the impact eviction has on people and the resources available to assist them. With this knowledge, we will be able to help others in the future who experience trauma, eviction or housing displacement. Link to their survey here
RVA Thrives/Virginia Community Voice: The RVA Thrives Youth research team focused their study on the impact the eviction process has on individuals mental health on the Southside of Richmond. The team will host two focus groups for those impacted by eviction. (Eligibility survey here)
Summary of Findings
RVA Eviction Lab Staff
September 8, 2020
Across the Commonwealth
For the full report: Eviction in the Commonwealth during the COVID-19 Pandemic
RVA Eviction Lab Staff
August 18, 2020
Across the Commonwealth of Virginia—with the exception of Roanoke, where COVID-19 infections have been relatively low—the overlap of eviction and COVID-19 demonstrates the connection between risk of eviction and risk of COVID-19. Patterns of evictions have remained consistent over time, with Black and Brown communities facing the most intense impacts of eviction – and now, COVID-19.
For more detailed information, please refer to the report: Evictions Across the Commonwealth August 2020
We identify 1,055 eviction filings across 108 properties in Henrico County, Chesterfield County and the City of Richmond. These represent 26%, 14% and 33% of the total pending eviction cases in each jurisdiction.
For more information, please see our recent data brief:
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.
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.
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 (evictionlab.org). 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.