Bring EvictionLab.org into the Classroom
Evictionlab.org can be a resource for teachers working with students on data analysis, public policy, social studies, and more. Students in service organizations or those who act as representatives to local governing bodies may also benefit from learning about housing issues in their community.
We would love to hear from teachers who use evictionlab.org in their classrooms. We hope to design more resources for educators in the future and would value knowing how students engaged with our work. If you would be willing to share insights or innovative lesson plans, please email email@example.com.
Ten Suggested Activities and Discussion Questions
Before engaging with the map, guess the national eviction rate, the rate for your state, and the rate for your city. Using the map tool, check the eviction rates in these areas. Were you close, or did you find these numbers surprising? If they surprised you, what did you expect?
Choose a state and use the time slider at the bottom of the map to see how the eviction rate changed over time in the state as a whole. Then, view evictions by county over time. Where did you see the greatest increases and decreases? Where was the rate fairly steady? What was the most surprising thing you learned from this exercise?
Choose a city near you (City A) and examine its eviction rate. Select a demographic variable (like rent burden, population, or poverty rate) and find a city that is similar with respect to the variable you chose in a different region (City B). How does the eviction rate compare? Select another demographic variable and find a different city in a different region (City C). How does the eviction rate compare between City A and City B? How does City C compare to City A? Can you say something about which demographic variables seem to impact eviction rates the most? Was this expected or unexpected?
Read “Unaffordable America: Poverty, Housing, and Eviction.” Why are so many low-income renting families dedicating the majority of their income to housing costs? What problems does this create? What groups are most affected by these trends?
Read the article “Forced Out” in The New Yorker. Name three problems eviction caused for Arleen and her family. If you could solve one of those problems, which would it be? Why? How would you solve it? Consider the landlord in the story. Would you have done things differently if you were in her shoes? When a tenant falls behind on rent, what might be some alternatives to eviction?
Given what you now know about eviction, what is the connection between housing instability and school instability? Why would this matter for evicted students as well as their peers and teachers?
Use JustShelter.org to find a community organization near you. What are their stated goals and priorities? How are they helping people at risk of eviction? Considering inviting in a representative from the community organization to share about their work.
Imagine you’ve been asked by your local government to help your city lower its eviction rate. What policies would you put into place to help prevent evictions? Research three effective policy interventions and explain how they help reduce eviction. Which ones do you think would work best for your city or area? Why?
Write a letter to your mayor and city council. Using data from the Eviction Lab, inform your representatives of the eviction rate in your community and what populations are especially affected by this problem. Think about what eviction does to families and communities and ask your representatives what they are doing to address this issue. Does your city have a housing / eviction task force, for example?
Study guides for Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, can be found here.