The Social and Legal Dimensions of Evictions

The goal of this project is to better understand the dynamics of eviction in order to more effectively design policy solutions and more appropriately target legal representation.  Specifically we seek to identify the prevalence of displacement caused by eviction filings, by reviewing case files to identify cases in which tenants sign agreements to move out of their home, and; map who is most vulnerable to eviction, by reviewing case files to identify characteristics of the eviction filing, the legal procedure the case followed, of the property, and of the property owner to better understand who is able to remain in their unit after an eviction is filed and who ends up being formally evicted or agreeing to move out.

Eviction Dynamics in Market-Rate Multifamily Rental Housing

Evictions are a pressing issue facing many low-income renters. The growing scholarship on evictions generally groups together all types of evictions across multiple property and owner types. Eviction dynamics may differ, however, between publicly subsidized affordable housing providers and private, market-rate rental landlords, or between evictions filed for different reasons, such as non-payment of rent or for no-fault. We examine the neighborhood, property and owner characteristics of evictions in private market-rate rental housing. Analyzing all evictions filed in Boston Housing Court between 2014 and 2017, we find that in market-rate multifamily rental housing, eviction filings are more likely in more recently constructed or renovated nonowner-occupied properties with higher assessed values compared with other properties in the same neighborhood. Eviction filings are also more likely in neighborhoods with a higher share of Black renters, and lower average educational attainment, above and beyond neighborhood economic characteristics. Nonpayment and no-fault eviction filings show more similarities than they do differences. These findings suggest that policies designed to mitigate evictions and their impacts on low-income renters should take into account the salience of owner-occupancy status, property age and value, and the particularly precarious situation of low-income renters in neighborhoods where a majority of renters are Black.

Evictions in Boston: The Disproportionate Effects of Forced Moves on Communities of Color

In the Boston neighborhoods where a majority of renters are people of color, half of renters spent 30 percent or more of their gross income on housing costs in 2015. Between 2010 and 2019, property owners filed more than 50,000 evictions in Boston Housing Court - an average of 5,451 per year.

While court records on eviction filings significantly undercount the extent of evictions and displacement, they are the best available data source on evictions. Our analysis of the Boston Housing Court eviction records in Boston from 2014 to 2016 find that: Communities of color are disproportionately affected by eviction filings in both subsidized and market-rate rental housing. The focus of this report is eviction filings in market-rate rental housing. Market-rate eviction filings are correlated with indicators of poverty. However, they are more closely correlated with the neighborhood racial composition, particularly the share of Black renters.

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