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New Database Reveals an American Eviction Crisis

Posted on 19. Apr, 2018 by

San Francisco has passed laws to help teachers and families with school-aged children avoid evictions during the school year.

GNOFHAC fights for fair, affordable housing for all. Most people can get behind a mission like this – who doesn’t think that people and families should have access to housing they can pay for without breaking the bank, in safe neighborhoods with amenities like good schools and supermarkets that sell fresh food? The unfortunate reality, however, is that many people don’t have access to affordable housing at all, let alone housing in areas that provide opportunities for their families. More than twenty percent of Americans spend more than half of their monthly income on rent and utilities, with a quarter of those families spending more than seventy percent of their income on housing costs.

When a large portion of an individual’s or family’s income is allocated to housing, any additional, unplanned costs (like fixing a broken-down car or going to the hospital) can be devastating. Those unable to pay their rent are often evicted, a process which can have spiraling consequences: children must move schools; parents lose their jobs and face challenges applying for new ones without a permanent address; families lose access to food stamps and health benefits when they no longer reside at the address these notices are sent to.  

In short, while poverty is a common cause of evictions, evictions are also a cause of poverty, creating a feedback loop that can be almost impossible to escape.

A new database from Princeton University called the Eviction Lab, compiles the first ever public dataset of evictions in America going back to 2000, illustrating through numbers, and interactive graphs how America is facing an eviction crisis. Sociologist Matthew Desmond estimates that 2.3 million evictions were filed in 2016 at a rate of four per minute. In Louisiana, where the eviction rate clocks in at 2.54% (0.3% above the national average), almost 36 evictions happen per day. While eviction rates in New Orleans are below the national average, they jump to 5.49% in Slidell and 6.45% in Baton Rouge, which is ranked 19th nationally in terms of evictions.

When families are evicted, no one wins. In order to reduce the number of evictions in the United States, policy makers should make affordable housing a priority. If you’d like to learn more about this issue, check out the Eviction Lab website and Matthew Desmond’s revealing book, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City.

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