Data Update: Eviction Filings During the COVID-19 Crisis

RVA Eviction Lab Eviction Filings Data Update

 June 26, 2020

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

 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.