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Housing in Brief: Eviction Lab Releases New Eviction Tracking System

 Also: Seniors evicted from nursing homes, and Philadelphia passes emergency housing laws. 

The Eviction Lab's Eviction Tracker is tracking ten regions (including Austin, Texas, shown here). Zip codes in blue have seen fewer filings over the last four weeks then compared to the average, and zip codes in red have seen more filings compared to a normal year's average. (Eviction Lab)

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Eviction Lab Releases New Eviction Tracking System

Eviction moratoriums imposed by cities and states during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic are beginning to expire, and the expected wave of evictions of tenants who’ve fallen behind on rent in the last few months has been described as an “avalanche” in news outlets from the New York Times to CNN to the BBC. To help monitor the fallout in the rental housing market, the Eviction Lab at Princeton University has released a new “Eviction Tracking System,” which compiles data about eviction filings in cities across the U.S., updated weekly. As of this writing, the system includes data for 11 cities, including Boston, Houston, St. Louis, and Pittsburgh. The creators say they are looking for “partnerships with states and localities who wish to work with us in monitoring and responding to emerging eviction hotspots.”

“For many, a displacement and eviction crisis will follow the public health crisis,” the page says.
“There is currently no data infrastructure that allows policymakers, legal and advocacy organizations, journalists, academics, and community members to track displacement and evictions in real time. The Eviction Lab has built the Eviction Tracking System (ETS) to fill this critical gap and to help monitor and respond to eviction hotspots as they emerge.”

Currently, the system still shows evictions trending downward in 10 of the 11 cities, with a recent spike found only in Cleveland, Ohio. In June there have been 245 eviction filings in Cleveland, according to a detailed report on the tracking system; that’s up from virtually zero in April and May but still below the monthly average in previous years. The system also includes a map showing eviction filing rates by census tract.

Seniors Evicted from Nursing Homes

More than 51,000 residents and employees of nursing homes have died of COVID-19 in the United States, according to a new report in the New York Times — more than 40 percent of coronavirus-related deaths in the country. But nursing homes are also accepting coronavirus patients as new residents, sometimes at the expense of existing residents, and sometimes for financial reasons, according to the report.

“They are kicking out old and disabled residents — among the people most susceptible to the coronavirus — and shunting them into homeless shelters, rundown motels and other unsafe facilities, according to 22 watchdogs in 16 states, as well as dozens of elder-care lawyers, social workers and former nursing home executives,” the report says. “Many of the evictions, known as involuntary discharges, appear to violate federal rules that require nursing homes to place residents in safe locations and to provide them with at least 30 days’ notice before forcing them to leave.”

Many of the evictees are Medicaid patients, according to the report. Nursing homes can often make more money by accepting patients on Medicare or private insurance, an incentive that has led many to evict some vulnerable residents in favor of COVID-19 patients with a greater ability to pay, the report says. In other instances, nursing homes have chosen to accept more coronavirus patients to help ease the burden on hospitals, according to the report. One man living at a nursing home in Queens has been the subject of three eviction attempts by the facility, according to the report. The facility twice tried to discharge him to homeless shelters, but backed down when he appealed, the report says, before trying a third time.

“They just want to get rid of me,” the man told the Times.

Emergency Housing Protection Bills Pass in Philadelphia

The Philadelphia City Council approved five bills known as the “Emergency Housing Protection Act,” with new protections for tenants amid the pandemic and economic downturn, according to a report in WHYY. The package includes measures to extend the city’s eviction moratorium, allow repayment plans for renters, create an eviction diversion program, waive some rental late fees, and related measures, according to the report. An earlier effort to pass a law preventing landlords from raising the rent during the pandemic was unsuccessful, the report says. The package of bills was sponsored by council members Helen Gym, Kendra Brooks, and Jamie Gauthier.

“As someone who has faced housing insecurity firsthand, I know these protections will have enormous impact on Philadelphia families,” Brooks said, according to the report. “When families have homes to stay in, our whole city can be safer and healthier.”

Also according to WHYY, the city council and mayor agreed to a budget that restores some funding for housing programs that had been cut in an earlier budget proposed as the coronavirus pandemic was taking hold. The next year’s budget includes $20 million for the city’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund, in line with a long-term plan to add $100 million to the fund over five years. In a press release, the advocacy group Philadelphia Coalition for Affordable Communities praised the mayor and city council for restoring housing funds.

“By holding the city accountable to its pledge of $100 million over five years, City Council is helping 1,000 homeowners make crucial safety repairs to stay in their homes; assisting another 300 families in the transition to homeownership; and giving 150 people with disabilities the opportunity to move out of dangerous nursing homes into their own homes,” the group said.

This article is part of Backyard, a newsletter exploring scalable solutions to make housing fairer, more affordable and more environmentally sustainable. Subscribe to our weekly Backyard newsletter.

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Jared Brey is Next City's housing correspondent, based in Philadelphia. He is a former staff writer at Philadelphia magazine and PlanPhilly, and his work has appeared in Columbia Journalism Review, Landscape Architecture Magazine, U.S. News & World Report, Philadelphia Weekly, and other publications.

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Tags: philadelphiacovid-19evictionsseniors

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