The Eviction Tsunami That Wasn’t
When the U.S. Supreme Court struck down an eviction moratorium issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in late August, housing activists, researchers, and politicians warned that an eviction tsunami would be the inevitable result.
“The tragic, consequential, and entirely avoidable outcome of this ruling will be millions of people losing their homes this fall and winter, just as the delta variant ravages communities and lives,” said Diane Yentel, president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, in late August.
“The Supreme Court failed to protect 11 million households across our country from violent eviction in the middle of a deadly global pandemic,” said Rep. Cori Bush (D–Mo.), citing one estimate of how many renters were behind on rent.
Economic projections of how many evictions could be expected without a national moratorium painted an equally dire picture.
The Aspen Institute in July said that 15 million people were behind on rent and at risk of eviction. The U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey from the last two weeks in August found 7.6 million people reported behind on rent, and of those, 3.5 million said they were very likely or somewhat likely to be evicted in the next two months.
Nevertheless, a month after the end of the federal eviction moratorium, these millions of evictions have yet to materialize. Indeed, while filings have increased, they remain well below historical averages almost everywhere in the country.
Eviction filings rose 8.75 percent from August to September, according to data tracked by Princeton University’s Eviction Lab, which tracks eviction filings in six states and 31 cities (which covers about a quarter of all renters).
“It’s going up but it’s not going up by a ton,” says Peter Hepburn, a sociology professor at Rutgers University and researcher with Eviction Lab. “You look at September relative to historic averages, that leaves eviction filings at 48.5 percent below historic averages…We didn’t see a jump up to normal, let alone a jump past normal into a giant wave of eviction filings.”
Explanations abound for why this is.
One is that while the federal moratorium is no more, local and state moratoriums remain in place across the country.
Austin, Texas, for instance, still has its own local eviction moratorium in effect. Evictions there were about 20 percent of historic averages in September 2021, which was basically unchanged from August. New York City, which is covered by a state moratorium, is likewise seeing only about 10 percent of the normal rate of evictions.
Evictions have increased more markedly in places that were only covered by the CDC moratorium.
Connecticut, where a state moratorium expired at the end of June, saw a little over 1,000 evic
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