Housing in Brief: 3 Million Evictions Avoided During the Pandemic

Also, corporate landlords evicted Midwest tenants during the pandemic.

(Mural artist unknown; photo by Dave R / CC BY-NC 2.0)

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Fastest-Growing Midwest Landlord Evicted Tenants Throughout Pandemic at Alarming Rate

Bloomberg CityLab published an investigation showing that one of the Midwest’s largest landlords has been aggressively evicting tenants throughout the pandemic, despite federal and state eviction moratoria. Monarch Investment and Management Group owns 69,000 units across 20 states, according to the article. The company continued evicting tenants for non-payment often without taking them to court, and attorneys sometimes told tenants they would not be honoring the CDC’s eviction moratorium. While the federal eviction ban was in effect, the company moved to evict over 1,000 households in Kansas City and St. Louis, Missouri. In a videotaped meeting, owner Bob Nicolls said eviction bans were “more of a nuisance than anything else.”

The CityLab article also contains this sentence, based on an interview with Matthew Chase, one of Monarch’s lawyers in St. Louis: “In 2019, Chase filed over 2,000 evictions in St. Louis County, he said in a Zoom interview, between sips from a coffee mug printed with the word ‘Evictions.’”

Report: Middle-Income Tenants Need Free Eviction Defense

A report published by the Community Service Society of New York found that an increasing number of tenants served by New York City’s Right To Counsel program were above the program’s typical income cap, a sign that the program should be expanded to serve higher income levels. The city established the Right To Counsel law in 2017, providing free legal defense for people under 200% of the federal poverty line. Prior to the law only 1% of tenants in eviction proceedings were represented by an attorney, but by the end of 2021, that number had increased to 74%. The federal poverty line is set low — $21,811 for a family of three — so means tested programs often need to reach far above this limit to serve people in need. The report argues that RTC’s cap is still too low. According to a previous report published by CSS, 13% of families who were between 200% and 400% of the federal poverty line faced eviction in 2021, and 24% of those families owed back rent.

CSS proposes that New York pass a statewide Right To Counsel bill, which would offer attorneys to any tenant in housing court facing eviction who requests it. Eviction filings have been ramping up since the statewide eviction moratorium ended, and Gothamist reports that tenants have been going without representation, owing both to the court’s backlog and RTC staff attrition.

More Than 3 Million Evictions Were Avoided During the Pandemic

A report from Princeton University’s Eviction Lab shows the impact of federal and state eviction moratoria as well as federal assistance on eviction filings. The Eviction Lab tracks filings in six states and 31 cities, where they found filings in 2021 were 50% below the historical average. Overall, the report found, over three million eviction cases were prevented between March 15, 2020 and the end of 2021. Low-income and majority Black neighborhoods experienced the largest decrease of eviction filing, according to the report: 27.9% of prevented eviction cases were in majority Black neighborhoods. The report attributes the large drop in eviction filings to the CDC eviction moratorium, stimulus checks, increased unemployment insurance and the child tax credit.

Learn more about eviction prevention in a recent Next City podcast episode, hosted by Executive Director Lucas Grindley. Lucas speaks with myself and Rasheedah Phillips, Director of Housing at PolicyLink, about an eviction mediation program in Philadelphia.

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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Roshan Abraham is Next City's housing correspondent and a former Equitable Cities fellow. He is based in Queens. Follow him on Twitter at @roshantone.

Tags: evictionsrenters rights

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