Eviction Lab Research Finds Evictions Are Prevalent in Suburbs as well as Cities

A new journal article from the Eviction Lab, “Beyond Urban Displacement: Suburban Poverty and Eviction,” examines how urban and suburban eviction rates compare across 71 cities. The article finds that despite common perceptions that evictions are primarily an urban issue, evictions are also common in the suburbs, with one in six cities having greater eviction rates in surrounding suburbs than in urban areas. High suburban eviction rates are most common in metropolitan areas with high rates of suburban poverty, highly segregated suburbs, and suburbs that surround more expensive urban housing markets.

Households living in poverty have increasingly moved to the suburbs, and since 2010, the suburbs have housed the majority of the country’s poor households. To assess the prevalence of evictions in suburbs, researchers used data from over 2.3 million eviction filings across 71 metropolitan areas. Eviction rates were calculated by dividing the number of eviction filings by the number of renter-occupied housing units in a given area.

The researchers found that from 2012 to 2016, the eviction rate in urban areas was 3.2% while the eviction rate in suburban areas was 2.0%. Despite a higher eviction rate in urban areas overall, 12 of the 71 metropolitan areas included in the sample had higher suburban eviction rates. Cities that fall into this category include Seattle, Philadelphia, Houston, and Boston. In 26 other metropolitan areas, the suburban eviction rate was less than one percentage point below the urban eviction rate. Suburban eviction rates tended to be higher in places with less costly suburban housing compared to urban areas, higher rates of suburban poverty, and higher amounts of suburban segregation.

The article also provides case studies of three cities – Miami, Milwaukee, and Seattle – to illustrate how contextual factors influence how and where evictions happen. In Seattle, for example, the tech industry boom led to high levels of gentrification in urban areas, particularly in predominantly Black and low-income neighborhoods. As these households were pushed out of the city center, many moved to the suburbs, resulting in increased eviction rates in suburban areas and decreased eviction rates in urban areas. Seattle’s eviction rate is 1.1% in the suburbs compared to .5% in the urban core. Milwaukee, on the other hand, has not experienced widespread in-migration or gentrification, and the urban core continues to house predominantly low-income households and households of color. As a result, the eviction rate in urban Milwaukee (4.0%) is much higher than the eviction rate in suburban Milwaukee (.7%).

The variation in the eviction landscape across metropolitan areas points to the importance of regional approaches to serve people experiencing evictions. For example, in metropolitan areas where evictions are increasingly taking place in the suburbs, support services such as legal aid and eviction diversion need to be accessible outside of the urban core.

The article can be found at: https://bit.ly/3qQwgc4

A summary of the article can be found at: evictionlab.org/suburban-eviction