HUD Report to Congress: National Evictions Database Feasible with Congressional Action and Funding

In a report to Congress, HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research outlined the feasibility of a national evictions database, including the need for such a database, potential challenges, and an approach for moving forward. Eviction data have historically been difficult to collect due to the decentralized nature of these data across court systems. A national evictions database could standardize data collection and reporting and would help policy makers, researchers, and advocates better understand the impacts of evictions and identify which policy interventions are most effective at preventing evictions. The report presents an approach for collecting data on court-ordered evictions, evictions that occur outside of the legal system, and administrative evictions in federally subsidized housing units.

Collecting data about evictions can be challenging due to the decentralized and unstandardized nature of court processes. Some courts do not maintain electronic records of eviction filings, while others do not disaggregate eviction data from other civil court cases. Data rarely includes demographic information about tenants or landlords, requiring the data to be linked to other sources to conduct more robust analysis. Despite these challenges, HUD’s proposed approach to developing a national database suggests ways to overcome these hurdles.

The report suggests a three-pronged approach to initiating data collection on 1) court-ordered evictions, 2) extra-legal evictions, and 3) administrative evictions in HUD-funded units. To collect data on court-ordered evictions, the report recommends funding states with capacity-building grants which would help states build out systems to collect and report on eviction filings. This grant process could begin as a pilot program so that HUD could simultaneously learn about the most effective forms of technical assistance and state incentives for data reporting. To collect data on extra-legal evictions – or evictions that occur outside the legal system – the report recommends a national survey on the prevalence of these evictions and who they affect. This survey could be an addendum to a pre-existing survey, such as the American Community Survey or Current Population Survey. Lastly, to learn more about administrative evictions in HUD-funded properties, the report suggests that HUD revise its own data collection systems to collect more robust information on evictions that occur within its rental assistance programs.

Millions of households face eviction annually and evictions disproportionately impact low-income households, people of color, and households with children. The impact of eviction is far reaching, influencing household’s mental and physical health, employment opportunities, and future housing stability. Evictions can also be costly, affecting households’ ability to afford other basic needs, like food and health care. The creation of a national evictions database can help researchers and policymakers better understand what interventions are effective in preventing evictions.

Read the report at: