Eviction Lab updates April 20, 2018

The Eviction Lab Media Guide

  • James Hendrickson
  • Senior Research Specialist

Welcome to the Eviction Lab. We hope you will engage with the data we’ve been able to gather and make public. Here are some considerations to keep in mind as you interpret our numbers.

On the Map & Data section of our website, we have included a national database of eviction estimates. Toggles allow you to choose years, eviction filings or evictions, demographic characteristics, and the geography at which you would like to view the data. You can select up to three areas for comparison, and then, by clicking “View More Data”, you will be able to look at additional information about those areas.

Eviction filings are the estimated number of eviction-related cases in our data each year, while evictions represent the number of eviction judgments obtained by landlords against their tenants where we have an indication that the tenant left the property. The size of the red bubbles on the map indicates the size of the rate chosen.

Eviction judgments represent those who have been ordered to leave a property or have received a money judgment against them. This does not count the times the sheriff arrives, as many have left before this happens. We also cannot measure informal evictions, where tenants leave as a result of notices or warnings outside of the courts.

There are countless untold stories in these data. Here are a few suggestions of possible questions to pursue:

Prevalence: For many areas across the country, our data offer the first public estimates of eviction. The sheer number of families affected by eviction is staggering. Are there certain areas in your city that have more evictions than others? Why?

Comparison: Eviction is fascinating because it does not affect every area uniformly. How does your area compare to other similar places? How do rates change from year to year? What factors could be contributing to a decrease in evictions over time?

Policy/Economics: How does the legal system in your community shape evictions? What does the affordable housing situation look like in your area, and how might it affect hospitals, schools, communities, and other institutions?

Investigate: There are many investigative stories to tell. Who owns your city? What landlords are responsible for the lion’s share of evictions? How long does the average tenant spend in eviction court? Who is being most affected by eviction? And what policies are in place to prevent eviction or soften its blow?

While we have collected over 83 million eviction records, we are still in the process of collecting additional data to fill in gaps where we haven’t yet been able to obtain all the records. To date, there are certain states where we believe we have not collected all available eviction records.

These include:

California – Many eviction records are sealed at the end of a case in California. This policy makes cases no longer accessible to the public. As a result, we cannot see if or when these evictions took place, creating an undercount. In addition, collection in California can be difficult as a whole, owing to restrictions on the number of records one can collect.

New York – Over 1,000 courts in New York hear eviction cases, but their records are not organized in a centralized system. This makes collection especially difficult. Furthermore, records in New York are often “abstracted judgments,” meaning there is only a public record if the plaintiff/landlord pays to have them placed there.

New Jersey – While we were able to obtain data on eviction cases, complete case outcomes were not collected.

Some states will require additional records collection. These areas include: Hawaii, Vermont, Connecticut, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia.

Based on an analysis of our data, it also appears that a handful of states have low counts and will require further collection: Arizona, Idaho, New Hampshire, and Washington.

In Kentucky, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Texas, there is good data coverage in the urban centers, but there are some more rural areas that are missing data.

You can compare eviction rates from our map and raw data with court-reported statistics on eviction filings from 27 states and the District of Columbia (download court-reported statistics). These statistics provide annual counts of evictions filed in counties. To keep things consistent, we haven’t included these statistics in our map of evictions, but you can use them to help validate estimates.

Regarding use of our visualizations, feel free to

  • Embed the map within your site
  • Use screenshots of our data visualizations (from the map and rankings pages)
  • Create custom visualizations of your own using the data

How to credit: the embedded map contains its own credit; any other visuals can be credited as “courtesy of The Eviction Lab at Princeton University.”

Photos on the site are licensed via their photographers, and you may reach out to them to inquire about usage; all photographers are credited either within captions or in the footer.

If you’d like us to create custom screenshots or advise on map embedding, feel free to reach out to press@evictionlab.org, and we’d be glad to help.

We will continue our effort to provide the most comprehensive data on evictions in America and invite you to stay tuned for updates to our dataset by signing up for our email list. If you have any questions or would like to get in touch with the Eviction Lab, please email us at help@evictionlab.org or press@evictionlab.org (for media inquiries). We also invite you to explore justshelter.org, a resource built by our team with contact information for housing advocates all across the country.

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