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In 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, about 34 million people lived in poverty in the US. Renters had difficulty footing bills like health care, food, education, etc., mostly because of financial instability and lack of affordable housing. This greatly resulted in an increased eviction rate.

The National Low-Income Housing Coalition reveals that an average minimum wage worker has to work about 97 hours and 79 hours every week to afford a two-bedroom and one-bedroom rental home respectively. And, despite the high cost of living, wage growth has lagged behind the cost of living and inflation. Besides, middle-class jobs are vanishing because of external factors like globalization and automation, resulting in many low-class jobs with lower benefits and pay.

Before the pandemic, many tenants below the poverty line were already using 50% of their earnings on rent. Most of these families hardly get enough to get by, let alone save for emergencies or future needs. So, any small cost burden can easily cause rent nonpayment and, eventually, eviction.

Understanding eviction

An eviction is when a landlord expels a tenant from their property. It happens when renters can’t or don’t pay their rent. Landlords can also expel renters for a range of other reasons including, breaking the law, damaging property, taking on borders, and causing a disturbance.

With about 44.1 million tenants at risk of eviction, cities, and landlords must understand the depth of their local eviction crisis. Data providers, like Enformion, enable legal teams, debt collectors, law enforcement, private investigators, and corporations to view evictions on people’s records. Eviction Lab, which is the first national database of eviction data, also has millions of records.

The data available from these providers show distinct trends, including that the eviction issue is not limited to expensive urban cities like San Francisco, Seattle, or DC. The data shows that the problem pervades cities that are cheaper to live in, too, like Albuquerque, Tulsa, and Richmond. According to Eviction Lab data, cities like North Charleston, SC; Jackson, Mississippi, Hampton, VA; Newport News, VA; and Richmond, VA have the highest eviction rates.

How local leaders are using data to navigate the eviction crisis

While this crisis was around long before the pandemic, the situation seems to have worsened with the pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an order to stop people from getting expelled and forced into crowded living situations or homeless shelters where COVID-19 spreads easily. This order was extended recently to cover cities that were most affected by the coronavirus.

But as the pandemic surges on and local and state governments struggle to distribute emergency rental aid, the true understanding of who is most affected and where is hindered by a lack of local eviction data. This data varies throughout the country; it’s hard to know who lost their homes during the COVID crisis, and where the loss is concentrated, etc.

Good data helps people to understand the extent of the housing crisis the country is currently facing. Without a true understanding of renters susceptible to eviction, it would be hard for parties to plan or act. It is akin to not knowing how many cancer or car accident cases there is each year. It’s critical to know what cities have the lowest and highest eviction rates and learn what’s working – and that’s where data comes in. As mentioned earlier, Eviction Lab does a great job providing data. However, they have incomplete records and lack data for several states that seal their eviction records or don’t release records publicly.

That is where a big data provider like Enformion comes into play. With thousands of sources and millions of public and proprietary records, they can fill in the gaps. Whether you are a local leader, legal representative, or tenant screening company, having access to real-time eviction data can help you make an informed decision. Enformion allows you to do this and much more. Contact us today to begin your free trial.