Protecting the Most Vulnerable: Policy Response and Eviction Filing Patterns During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Peter Hepburn, Jacob Haas, Nick Graetz, Renee Louis, Devin Q. Rutan, Anne Kat Alexander, Jasmine Rangel, Olivia Jin, Emily Benfer, Matthew Desmond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis exposed the U.S. rental housing market to extraordinary stress. Policymakers at the federal, state, and local levels established eviction moratoria and a number of additional direct and indirect renter-supportive measures in a bid to prevent a surge in evictions and associated public health risks. This article assesses the net efficacy of these interventions, analyzing changes in eviction filing patterns in 2020–2021 in thirty-one cities across the country. We find that eviction filings were dramatically reduced over this period. The largest reductions were in places that previously experienced highest eviction filing rates, particularly majority-Black and low-income neighborhoods. Although these changes did not ameliorate racial, gender, and income inequalities in relative risk of eviction, they did significantly reduce rates across the board, resulting in especially large absolute gains in previously high-risk communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)186-207
Number of pages22
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


  • COVID-19
  • eviction
  • housing instability
  • inequality


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