Published: October 2023

ID #: 283-5107

Journal: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Authors: Graetz N, Gershenson C, Hepburn P, Porter SR, Sandler DH, Desmond M

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Millions of American renter households every year are threatened with eviction, an event associated with severe negative impacts on health and economic well-being. Yet we know little about the characteristics of individuals living in these households. Here, we link 38 million eviction court cases to US Census Bureau data to show that 7.6 million people, including 2.9 million children, faced the threat of eviction each year between 2007 and 2016. Overall, adult renters living with at least one child in their home were threatened with eviction at an annual rate of 10.4%, twice that of adults without children (5.0%). We demonstrate not only that the average evicted household includes one child, but that the most common age to experience eviction in America is during childhood. We also find that previous studies have underestimated racial disparities in eviction risk: Despite making up only 18.6% of all renters, Black Americans account for 51.1% of those affected by eviction filings and 43.4% of those evicted. Roughly one in five Black Americans living in a renter household is threatened with eviction annually, while one in ten is evicted. Black–White disparities persist across levels of income and vary by state. In providing the most comprehensive description to date of the population of U.S. renters facing eviction, our study reveals a significant undercount of individuals impacted by eviction and motivates policies designed to stabilize housing for children and families.

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