Jane Place Neighborhood Sustainability Initiative (JPNSI) has released Unequal Burden, Unequal Risk: Households Headed by Black Women Experience Highest Rates of Eviction, a report analyzing data collected by their Eviction Court Monitoring Project between September 1st, 2019 and March 12th, 2020. Over a total of 29 days—roughly a third of all court sessions held during that time period—trained in-court monitors observed 671 eviction proceedings and collected data regarding who was getting evicted in Orleans Parish, and why. Data analysis reveals who is most at risk of eviction when courts reopen on June 8: households headed by Black women, and tenants who are unable to secure legal representation.
“Re-opening eviction court in the midst of a pandemic and while tens of thousands of residents are unemployed is a preventable public health and housing disaster,” says Veronica Reed, JPNSI’s Executive Director. “Evictions in New Orleans were already at a crisis level before the pandemic struck, with Black residents, and Black women in particular, bearing the brunt of the negative consequences of eviction and displacement.”
The outcomes of the 671 cases were:
The economic crisis certainly means that some renters who were previously not at risk of eviction are now struggling to pay rent. The underlying systemic inequalities in New Orleans ensures that a disproportionate number of Black households will face eviction when courts reopen. This is especially troubling considering the high rates of COVID-19 infection and mortality amongst Black residents in Orleans Parish. One of the neighborhoods with the highest COVID-19 infection rates is Little Woods, which JPNSI found had an eviction rate of 10.4%. Little Woods’ vulnerability to eviction, as well as its vulnerability to COVID-19, illustrates how systemic racism in the economy, the healthcare system, and the housing market amplifies risk and increases harm within predominantly Black communities.
JPNSI, in coalition with over 60 organizations, advocates that eviction courts remain closed in Orleans Parish in alignment with the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Roughly 40% of evictions observed during monitoring were forbidden by the CARES Act, which prevents properties that participate in federal subsidy programs (such as the Housing Choice Voucher or “Section 8” program, public housing, Low Income Housing Tax Credit properties, and Permanent Supportive Housing) from evicting tenants until August 24, 2020. The CARES Act also protects renters who live in properties with federally backed mortgages, but it is nearly impossible for tenants to gain access to their landlord’s mortgage to check if they are protected.
“Keeping court closed will give the federal, state, and local government time to align the resources necessary to prevent eviction,” says JPNSI’s Program Director Breonne DeDecker. “Opening courts without first ensuring that tenants are able to pay their bills is a guaranteed way to increase homelessness and spread COVID-19 within our most vulnerable communities.”
You can read the full report here.