Addressing the Eviction Crisis
Jennifer C. Turnham, Director for the Office of Policy Development.
As we approach two years since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared a national emergency in the United States, many households are still directly and indirectly feeling its effects. The latest data on housing insecurity caused by the pandemic suggests that in mid-October 2021, 6.9 million renter households were behind on their rent, 5.4 million were not confident that they would be able to make their next rent payment, and 3.1 million feared eviction in the next 2 months. Studies have linked housing instability and eviction with negative outcomes for families and children in the areas of physical and mental health, employment, school attendance, and child well-being.
Stemming the current wave of evictions and developing long-term solutions to housing instability requires a whole of government approach. For its part, the Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) has been tracking the eviction crisis and pursuing several actions to help policymakers understand and alleviate the problem:
- On November 23, 2021, HUD announced $20 million in inaugural grants from the Eviction Protection Grant Program, the first of its kind for the Department. PD&R will manage the program, which has offered grants to 10 organizations from across the country to provide legal assistance at no cost to low-income tenants at risk of or subject to eviction.
- On November 16, 2021, HUD released a Report to Congress on the Feasibility of Creating a National Evictions Database. The report reflects research by PD&R staff into court-ordered, extralegal, and administrative evictions, including what data sources are available for each eviction type and how researchers and other stakeholders have sought to collect and analyze data related to evictions. PD&R staff also consulted with about a dozen external stakeholders to learn about the challenges of, and opportunities for, collecting data on eviction.
- PD&R has added new data on housing insecurity to its National Housing Market Indicators report on the health of the nation’s housing market. These data include the number of households behind on rental and mortgage payments and the number of households fearing imminent eviction and foreclosure. The new data points come from PD&R’s analysis of housing data from the Household Pulse Survey fielded by the U.S. Census Bureau. The Household Pulse Survey has been an incredible source of real-time data on how Americans are faring during the pandemic and has shaped the federal response to the crisis.
- In the coming year, PD&R will collaborate with our federal partners, including the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness to document and evaluate the federal government’s efforts to prevent evictions and homelessness in the wake of the pandemic and accompanying economic fallout.
In addition to these specific actions, PD&R will support other HUD efforts to minimize evictions from HUD-assisted housing. An important component of HUD’s response is the Extension of Time and Required Disclosures for Notification of Nonpayment of Rent Interim Final Rule, effective November 8, 2021. This rule requires providers of public housing and project-based rental assistance properties to notify tenants facing eviction due to nonpayment of rent at least 30 days in advance and to give tenants information about accessing emergency rental assistance. The extension of the notice period and the information requirement are designed to give HUD tenants greater opportunity to access Emergency Rental Assistance funds to pay their back rent and utility arrearages. Additionally, HUD published the Eviction Prevention and Stability Toolkit, and worked with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to provide information for families on its “Find Rent Help” site.
Addressing the eviction crisis is a critical priority for HUD and for the Biden administration. PD&R will continue to play an active role in the national effort to reduce the incidence of eviction and mitigate its negative consequences.