What are the most promising interventions and policies to improve the system of evictions in the US?

What is the current policy and services landscape for eviction innovation: of ideas and programs that intend to improve how the eviction system functions, to be fairer, less harmful, and more navigable?

Limits on how landlords can evict, treat, or charge tenants

Financial support to people at risk of eviction

 

Building People's capability to navigate the eviction process


Legal support to those dealing with an eviction

Help with housing conditions and landlord-tenant relationship

Protections after an eviction or conclusion of case

Dis-incentivizing landlords from evicting tenants





Limits on how landlords can evict, treat or charge tenants










Financial support to those at risk of eviction




 










Help with Housing Conditions





Building People's Capability to navigate the eviction process


















Protections after an eviction or conclusion of a case








Disincentivizing Landlords from Evicting Tenants




 

 




How can we understand and evaluate the eviction system?


Full Eviction Rates. How many people face eviction actions — including those that are evicted without any lawsuit filed against them in court? While some researchers are gathering information about court filings for evictions, this might vastly undercount the number of people involuntarily displaced from their homes via informal means, including notes from their landlords, threats from them, or other means.

Default Rates and Failure to Appear Rates. How many people who have been sued for eviction actually participate in the court process? How many file answers or make an appearance to respond to the lawsuit formally?

On-the-Ground Outcomes of Different Court Resolutions. When a landlord files an unlawful detainer or eviction lawsuit in the court, to remove a tenant, the recorded resolution in the court proceedings does not always indicate what happens to the tenant or the housing situation. The recorded resolutions might be a Default Judgment, a Settlement, or a finding by the judge at trial. How can researchers understand, though, if a person is still in their home, if they have subsequent housing issues, or what the specific terms of settlements are?

Eviction Outcome Data that preserves Eviction Masking/Protection. What are the protocols that can be used to gather specific, rich data about the outcomes of eviction outcomes — that also preserve the privacy of individuals who have been subject to evictions? How do we not make the research data a risk to people, in which future landlords, creditors, employers, or others might use the data to look up people’s past situations and use it to possibly discriminate against the person?

Demographics of eviction and outcomes. What type of people — race, gender, family situation, neighborhoods, etc — are most likely to face an eviction action? And do different types of people have different kinds of outcomes in court and afterwards?

Legal Aid outcomes. If a person gets limited or full assistance from a legal aid agency, what is their outcome in court?Are they able to represent themselves following the recommendations given? Do they experience a sense of respect, dignity, and procedural justice? And what is their housing situation after the process is over?

Self Help outcomes. If a person gets information or consultation with self-help services in court, what is their outcome in court? Are they able to represent themselves following the recommendations given? Do they experience a sense of respect, dignity, and procedural justice? And what is their housing situation after the process is over?

Eviction to Homelessness connection. If a person goes through a formal eviction, are they using homeless services in the weeks or months afterwards? How often is an eviction action linked to homelessness and housing insecurity?

Eviction to Truancy connection. If a person goes through a formal eviction, are their children more likely to have issues with consistent school attendance, and performance in school?





 

What is the status quo of the eviction system?


Key resource:  Princeton Eviction Lab’s map and data overview

On the Media radio show, from WNYC: The Scarlet E series on Eviction in America.



NYU Furman Center (2018) ‘Implementing New York City’s Universal Access to Counsel Program: Lessons for Other Jurisdictions’, Policy Brief, (December).

NYC Right to Counsel: First year results and potential for expansion, March 2019, Community Service Society of NY.

NYC Mayor’s Office of Civil Justice and New York City Human Resources Administration (2018) Universal Access to Legal Services A Report on Year One of Implementation in New York City.

McKim, J. (2019) ‘“Someone To Speak For You”: Low-Income Tenants Get Lawyers For Housing Court’, NPR.

American Bar Foundation, National Center for State Courts, and the Public Welfare Foundation. Roles Beyond Lawyers: Evaluation of the New York City Court Navigators Program. March 2017.

Seron, C. et al. (2001) ‘The Impact of Legal Counsel on Outcomes for Poor Tenants in New York City’s Housing Court: Results of a Randomized Experiment’, Law & Society Review, 35(2), p. 419.



Hamilton County, Ohio eviction system details


These statistics are taken from an eviction report, “You are being asked to leave the premises”: A Study of Eviction in Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Ohio, 2014-2017, by Elaina Johns-Wolfe, Sociology Department, University of Cincinnati

  • What is the proportion of residences in Hamilton County that are renter-occupied? 42.3%
  • What percentage of renter-occupied units experienced an eviction filing? 8.7% — above the nation’s average of 6.3%
  • How many evictions are filed in Hamilton County? There were 49,757 eviction filings from 2014 through 2017. That’s an average of about 12,000 filings per year, or more than 230 per week.
  • How do tenants fare in court, after being sued for eviction? The court decided less than 1 percent of eviction filings in favor of tenants, according to a sample of last year’s filings. Landlords won nearly 48 percent of those cases; nearly 50 percent got dismissed.
  • Who is represented in court, when a landlord sues a tenant for an eviction? More than 88 percent of landlords have lawyers during eviction proceedings, but fewer than 3 percent of tenants do. The law requires landlords to have lawyers in court if their properties are owned by an LLC or corporation.
  • Which neighborhoods and demographics of people are most likely to face an eviction lawsuit? Neighborhoods with the highest eviction rates also tend to have the highest rates of poverty and heaviest rent burdens. The racial composition of neighborhoods was a strong predictor of eviction rates, too. Mount Airy had the highest eviction-filing rate of all Census tracts in Hamilton County. Other high eviction neighborhoods include Winton Hills, Avondale and west Walnut Hills.



October 2018: New Cincinnati Program Will Aim to Prevent Eviction, by Nick Swartsell, CityBeat

June 2018: You are being asked to leave the premises”: A Study of Eviction in Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Ohio, 2014-2017, by Elaina Johns-Wolfe, Sociology Department, University of Cincinnati

June 2018: What Nearly 50,000 eviction filings in four years have done to Hamilton County, Lucy May and Craig Cheatham, I-Team 9

April 2018: These Cincinnati neighborhoods suffer the most evictions, by Nick Swartsell, CityBeat

Eviction/Displacement Video interviews, by Affordable Housing Advocates and Northern Kentucky University:

Part 1: Faces of Displacement (6:25 minutes)

Video clip from Faces of Displacement

Part 2: Housing Court (5:40 minutes)



The legal system of eviction in Hamilton County

An overview of all of the statutes and rules about Landlord-Tenants and evictions, from the Hamilton County Law Library

The Ohio Tenant-Landlord Law of 1974,

An FAQ from the court clerk on eviction process in Hamilton County

Organizations working on eviction in Hamilton County

Cincinnati City Council

Hamilton County Clerk of Courts

Legal Aid Society of Southwest Ohio: http://www.lasswo.org/ 

Housing Opportunities Made Equal: http://homecincy.org/

Affordable Housing Advocates: https://affordablehousingcincinnati.org/

Hamilton County Human Services Chamber

Ohio Housing Finance Agency

Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio

Easter Seals

The Cincy Project: http://thecincyproject.org/; TCP harnesses the expertise and resources from the University of Cincinnati faculty and students, and from Cincinnati community members, non-profits, governments and agencies in order to conduct research that will directly benefit the community.





 

Design Space for Eviction



What are the main use cases for which we can be improving the system?

  • The tenant who is struggling with poor habitability, poor quality of housing — but is not taking action
  • The tenant who is just sued for eviction, or given notice to that effect.
  • The tenant who has come to housing court to deal with an eviction lawsuit, but is struggling to navigate the procedure, understand what’s happening, or protect themselves afterward

What are the main metrics we are aiming towards? The main points of data that we are looking to affect and improve?

  1. Legal Capability + Participation in the system: are they able to complete forms, service, hearing attendance, and other system requirements?
    1. Proportion of people who file answers
    2. Proportion of people who attend the hearing (or who Fail to Appear, with a Default)
    3. Proportion of submissions that are accepted or rejected
  2. Time Spent navigating the court system
    1. Length of time it takes to get to resolution
  3. Money spent on procedure
  4. Procedural Justice, including subjective sense of respect and dignity, as well as objective sense of respect given
    1. Have exit surveys in which people use a Procedural Justice survey instrument to rank how fair court was, how much they understood, and what level of respect and dignity they felt they were given
    2. Count the average number of respectful or disrespectful moments that occurred during the eviction hearing
  5. Quality of Life after the court procedure
    1. In stable housing?
    2. With family?
    3. With financial security?
  6. Rates of Disruptive Displacement