Will there be a tsunami of evictions after COVID-19?
As COVID-19 spread across summer and fall of 2020, Illinois’ Governor J.B. Pritzker, and later the CDC, issued moratoriums preventing the eviction of renters for unpaid rent- these moratoriums are still in effect. While this moratorium stopped households from being formally evicted during the pandemic, it left tenants responsible for the rent they owed. This means that whenever the moratorium ends, tenants may find themselves owing a significant amount of back rent. At this point, landlords may well file an eviction.
But how many tenants will be in this position? This issue has a lot of people worried, not just in Chicago but across the country. The situation is compounded by the huge increase in unemployment that followed the COVID-19 related shutdown in the spring. With tens of thousands of Chicagoans losing their jobs, will there be a “tsunami” of evictions once the moratorium lifts?
This was the question that Sociology Department professor Peter Rosenblatt saw an opportunity to answer. Drawing on an existing partnership with the Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing (LCBH), a non-profit legal aid and advocacy organization, and working with Loyola’s Center for Urban Research and Learning (CURL) and a group of students, Dr. Rosenblatt used a unique dataset of Cook County eviction filings to explore the relationship between evictions and unemployment. The research team, which included sociology graduate student Travis Moody, undergraduate sociology major Emily Drane, and recent sociology alum Grace Rock, used these data to develop a statistical model that they used to predict the number of eviction filings there might have been in Chicago in 2020 if not for the moratorium. The project showcased the continued impact of sociology outside of Loyola. Current students Moody and Drane took an active role in the analysis, while alum Rock, at the time an Americorps VISTA member serving with LCBH, provided deep knowledge of the data and housing policy. The report, which showed 21,000 evictions from 2020 that could potentially still be filed when the moratorium ends, can be found here. An updated discussion of COVID-19 and evictions featuring Dr. Rosenblatt can be found on Loyola's YouTube channel and a longer presentation by the group at a CURL Friday Morning seminar can be found here.
Rosenblatt, Moody, and Drane, along with CURL research professor Dr. Gina Spitz, are continuing their work with LCBH on different aspects of eviction in Chicago.