Neighborhoods with More Single Mothers, Children, Mobile Homes Experience Higher Eviction Filing Rates

An article in Housing Policy Debate, Eviction Case Filings and Neighborhood Characteristics in Urban and Rural Places: A Michigan Statewide Analysis,” analyzes all eviction filings in Michigan between 2014 and 2018 to identify characteristics of neighborhoods associated with higher eviction filing rates. Such analysis can be used to help target eviction-prevention efforts. The study reports that neighborhoods with a greater prevalence of single-mother households and higher shares of children experience more eviction filings. In rural areas, higher shares of households in mobile homes and more mobile home parks predict higher eviction filing rates.

The authors obtained from the Michigan Judicial Data Warehouse all 909,989 eviction cases filed in the state between 2014 and 2018. They obtained demographic, economic, and housing-related data about the 2,538 neighborhoods where these cases were filed from the 2013-2017 American Community Survey, CoreLogic, and the EPA Smart Location database. Neighborhood characteristics they examined included the share of the population identified as Black, the share with an associate degree or higher, the share of households with a single mother, the share of the population under 18, the poverty rate, a measure of jobs accessibility, and the share of renters who were housing cost-burdened, among others. After gathering these data, the authors conducted a regression analysis that tested how well these neighborhood characteristics predicted the total number of evicting filings in each neighborhood in the period.

Across all neighborhoods, higher shares of households in mobile homes, headed by single mothers, or with children predicted higher eviction filing rates. Likewise, the number of mobile home park sites in a neighborhood and the number of mortgage foreclosures were related to higher eviction filings. Though the authors did not find a significant relationship between the Black share of the population and eviction filings, their findings are consistent with previous research that shows Black neighborhoods experience higher eviction filing rates. This likely results from the fact that the Black share of the population is highly correlated with other variables under consideration. Although the authors believe variations in tenant access to legal representation influence both filing rates and case outcomes, they did not find a relationship between the proximity of legal aid offices and eviction filing rates.

One goal of the analysis was to identify differences between urban and rural eviction filing patterns. Rural renters are more likely to live in single-family homes or mobile homes than urban renters, and in Michigan rural renters are older, less likely to have children, and more likely to be white. Eviction filings in rural areas were largely explained by a small subset of variables: the presence of single-mother households, the population under 18, the number of mortgage foreclosures, and the prevalence of mobile homes. The authors suggest that one reason the prevalence of mobile homes predicted a larger eviction filing rate may be due to increasing corporate ownership of mobile home parks, since previous research has established that larger corporate landlords are likely to evict at higher rates.

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