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Housing

We Have to Close the Eviction Data Gap

A national eviction moratorium isn’t enough. To address the coronavirus housing crisis, the federal government must arm cities with good data about where tenants are being evicted. 

Sign of the times: An illegal “bandit sign” advertises eviction protection and prevention services on a telephone pole in Long Beach, California, in January.  

Sign of the times: An illegal “bandit sign” advertises eviction protection and prevention services on a telephone pole in Long Beach, California, in January.  

Photographer: Bing Guan/Bloomberg

On the first day of his presidency, Joe Biden signed an executive order to extend the Centers for Disease Control’s national eviction moratorium until March 31. The prioritization of this measure signals the gravity of the harm facing tens of millions of renters who are months behind on rent and reeling from the Covid-19 crisis. Congress has passed $25 billion in rental assistance, with more possibly on the way.

Yet, we know eviction filings are continuing. Since the beginning of the pandemic last year, landlords have filed more than 227,000 evictions across five states and 27 cities, according to the Eviction Lab at Princeton University. But how many of these filings end in evictions? Which landlords are filing them? And what’s happening in the 45 states that Eviction Lab isn’t tracking?